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Valuables and invaluables, life gains momentum by the thrust of both. Or does it really? Except for the ones who are homeless, utterly poor, or afflicted with desperation, excluding them, the rest of the population in almost every part of the world, spends on things and services which are not in anywhere relative to their income. There is no estimation of what’s available at our disposal to make a life..how much ever short or long lived that life may be.
Historians believe or rather claim that it took around 2000 years…yes, you read it right, 20 centuries to finish building the great wall of China. According to a 2009 estimation, it would have costed £54 billion to build this 13, 171 mile structure. The two year executive education program run by the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania costed a student a whopping $192,900 in 2016. Brian Acton tweeted this on Aug 4, 2009, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next great adventure.” And then he moved on to created a multi-billion dollar company called ‘Whatsapp’. Whether you’re ambition soars as high as building a wonder of the world or you aspire to graduate with the most expensive degree offered in the world, so that you earn the highest salary ever offered, or you wish to multiply the wealth of your enterprise by investing in a pathbreaking business idea, any of this will demand of you to make an estimate of what you have, what you can give, what you can expect in return and what it will make of you in the end. An intricate due diligence of the sacrifices to be made, challenges to be faced, obstacles to be overcome, so on and so forth.
No matter how great is the desire of your heart, is there any desire that can cost you your life and yet let you keep it? There’s none such desire save one. The desire to be a disciple of Christ. Being a disciple of Christ, not merely a follower, comes with an incomparable cost…your very life. In today’s world, more than ever, money plays a very important role in acquiring or possessing comfort or luxury. In the ancient of days as well, money in the form that it was used, played a significant role in determining the standard of living. In the Old Testament however, we learn a very unique role of money, which directly influenced the state of the soul. In ancient Israel, BEKAH, SHEKEL AND TALENT were important currency. Bekah has special significance because it was used as atonement money, for the service of the Tabernacle. From the age of twenty and above, every Jew had to pay half a shekel of silver (1 Bekah) as a ransom for his soul. The Lord promised them that there would be no plague upon them if they paid this tax faithfully (Ex 30:12:14).
A Disciple of Christ is called to renounce himself/herself completely. There is nothing so dear or precious in this world than his Lord Himself, for a disciple to hold on to. The Lord categorically explains the COST OF DISCIPLESHIP in His own words in Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be my disciple”. This cost estimation preludes with a very severe warning. Luke 14:26 says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brother and sister, yes, and even his own life, he CANNOT [emphasis added by me] be my disciple“. In our case, after reading this, and in the case of the great crowds that accompanied Him (Luke 14:25), after listening to Him, we all might be tempted to re-think about fulfilling the 4th commandment given by God Himself. However, there is no love on earth or in heaven that the human heart can experience and reciprocate to, than the love for God and fulfillment of His word, while at the same time obeying every commandment of His. There is none greater than God and therefore there is none that we should obey first than God Himself. The crowds, no matter how great, followed The Lord for miracles, food, astounding speeches and discourses, love and even an escape from their day-to-day tensions.
Are we the same, one among the crowds, or even worse, among the mob that follows Him to trap Him, attack Him and then finally abandon Him. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. It is in giving that we receive. It is in loving that we are loved much more. It is in forgiving that we are soaked in Divine Mercy. It is in total abandonment to God and absolute emptying of oneself do we become Disciples of Christ. No ambition, no career, no relationship, no wealth, no prosperity can atone our soul, except for the cost that was paid by the Son of the living God. Only 1 Bekah each was so precious that it could atone for their souls, among the chosen people of GOd. In the case of you and me however, it was not money (as underestimated by Judas), rather t’was One soul that had the power to atone and redeem all souls, starting from the beginning of time and until the end of it. That One soul, that one Bekah of the Divine economy, is Jesus Christ. The perfect estimate, most accurate for salvation of all mankind. Life Himself in return for all life.
So, just like the temple money had to be Jewish and could not be Roman money (which had pagan images), the cost of Discipleship has to be our own lives (the image of God) and not any holocaust or vain sacrifice (pagan). So, let us not undervalue the cost that our Lord paid for our eternal freedom and life, let us not underestimate the work of grace, which empowers us to pay the singular cost of discipleship. Because everything else, as King Solomon – the richest of all, once said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.
~ John Roger Anthony