Crossing the Finish Line-

23rd Sunday

In 2 Timothy, St. Paul says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Many runners begin the race but not everyone finishes. Some give up and give in to the struggles and distractions along the way. The race is too hard and the runner is not prepared, or not willing to give the sustained effort required to satisfactorily complete the course.

Consider in this case, the course is our human life and completing the course satisfactorily is being with God for all eternity.

The Gospel for the 23rd Sunday brings to the forefront the cost of discipleship, the cost of following Jesus and the question that haunts us is, “are we willing to pay the price of discipleship so that we can be with God for all eternity?

In Matthew 26 Jesus speaks to this challenge of enduring to the end as he addresses the Apostles during his Agony in the Garden, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Are you strong enough to persevere to the end, or will the weak flesh we all share win out and you abandon the journey when the demands of discipleship get too intense, too extreme, too uncomfortable?

Jesus tells two stories in the Gospel of successfully completing what one has begun. The first story is of someone wishing to build a tower and calculating the cost of completion before starting so as not to be left with a foundation and a partial construct and people laughing and saying, “this one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.”

And then there is the king and the necessity to calculate the odds of victory in battle before an attack, and negotiating a peace treaty if one is not positioned for victory. Prudent planning-knowing what something is going to cost- seems to generate the actions required for success.

Steven Covey, in his works on the habits of highly effective people, has a premise “begin with the end in mind.” Determine the outcome (the end you have in mind), and calculate what is it going to take to achieve that end.

So, if your end is eternal discipleship with Jesus Christ, what is it going to take? What costs are involved so you are not left with a foundation and a few partial walls that stand as a monument to your failure?

Jesus tells us the cost of discipleship: place God above all other relationships and loves in your life; embrace-celebrate-look forward to- the difficulties and challenges (the crosses) you encounter because you have placed love of God above everything else; and don’t give up-follow him relentlessly-endure till the end, carry that discipleship across the finish line.

Can you / will you finish what you have begun?

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