Down the Road of Discipleship

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time | February 24, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So it is probably no surprise, but I have never exactly been your typical model of manhood.

Sports hold little appeal to me.  And my brief forays into them have always resulted in broken limbs of one form or the other.

I cry in movies on a rather frequent basis, including Toy Story 3, surrounded by a theater of small children utterly confused by the grown adult weeping in the back.

And, I have always been comfortable expressing love to friends and family alike, even to my male friends throughout high school and college who often took awhile to get used to the “I love you” as I hung up the phone.  

But I never really noticed it growing up.  Yeah, i got made fun of from time to time, but I had a really amazing group of friends in high school who just loved and accepted me for who I was.

So when I got to college, I never assumed that who I was would become a problem.

But it was.

See, my sophomore year, a group of young men at my campus decided to start an organization known as Esto Vir.  And its goal was to help young men grow in their Catholic faith.

I was so excited to join.  Because I had recently rediscovered my faith and I was eager for any opportunity that would continue me down my path of discipleship.

But I never got an invitation.

And when I asked about the oversight, I was told I didn’t fit the mold.  I wasn’t enough of a man to be a Catholic.  

As you can imagine, I was devastated.

I had trusted these men.  Cared about them. Loved them.

And they had wounded me deeply.  

Wounds that would take years to heal.  

Wounds that would gradually become scars that still ache every time someone tells me I don’t fit the mold.  That I’m not good enough.  That I am not manly enough.

It’s funny how it was that event that came to mind as I heard the Gospel for this evening.

For that call to love our enemies.  To turn the other cheek. To forgive.

It is hard.

Really hard.

For when we do so, we become so vulnerable.

We lose out on the opportunity for vengeance, to see them experience our pain.

We are viewed as foolish, naive.  People question how we could possibly follow this path.

Don’t you realize they are just going to hurt you again?

Don’t you realize they aren’t really sorry?

We are told that we must look out for ourselves.  Use your head. Be smart. Don’t trust easily.  Don’t let your guard down.  Then they can’t hurt you in the first place.

And everything the world says, makes sense.

I get it.  I get why this Gospel is a breaking point for so many.

For there is a true cost to discipleship.

But I must admit, I’ll take it anyway.

For it is the path that Christ walked before me.

For when I am tempted to judge or label or condemn, I remember a God who looked at a woman caught in adultery and said, “Neither do I condemn you.”

For when I am feeling judged or labeled or condemned, I remember a God who looked up a tree in the eyes of a tax collector and said, “Tonight I dine in your house.”

For when I am stretched too thin, unsure if I can go another mile, I remember a God who looked upon the vast crowds that he had just departed from and his heart was moved with pity and he began to teach them many things.

And yes, when my heart is raw with wounds inflicted by another, I remember a God who looked into the heavens and said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

One week after that messy confrontation in the cafeteria, one of the leaders of Esto Vir was standing in my doorway asking for my forgiveness.

And I granted it.

Taking the next step down the road of discipleship.  Trusting the God whose own I am will be there every step of the way.

Here we go my friends.

Let’s get walking together.

May God be Praised.

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