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Recently I was in line at a movie ticket counter waiting to buy a ticket. Ahead of me in line were a husband and his wife arguing about which movie to see. The husband apparently did not want to see a movie that his wife wanted to see. He said, “That’s a chick flick. I don’t want to watch a religious movie about saving a marriage.” Instead he wanted to see a movie about a young, attractive, professional woman breaking up with her boyfriend and getting romantically involved with a handsome stranger. The couple argued for several minutes at the counter. I left the line to let the dust settle. The husband was definitely not going to give in to his wife. In a strange way, the plot of the movie that I went to see was unfolding before my eyes in that arguing couple.
Most of us expect good things from God--financial blessings, happy marriage, and healthy children. Some of us may even approach faith as a feel-good experience that complements our desire for a buffet of life where we pick and choose pleasant experiences. But Jesus lays out a very different path for his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
In the movie, despite being aware of her husband falling into temptation of infidelity, the wife begins to pray earnestly for her husband. At one point she tells her husband, “I would rather have a man chasing Jesus than a house full of stuff.” To be a Christian disciple is not primarily to 'save my soul' or 'go to heaven,' but to immerse into human concerns, to become part of it through loving and sharing and building up with 'others.' To truly know “who Jesus is,” one has to fulfill the conditions of discipleship in which Jesus calls forth each disciple to deny oneself and take up the cross and follow him. Does our belief in Jesus and our behavior correspond? If we are merely pretending to follow Jesus, we need to look within and find the resolve to follow him once again. We can’t afford not to follow Jesus’ footsteps. Embracing and carrying our cross will bring us true freedom, joy, and fulfillment.
-Fr. Paul Yi