Proper 3, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Jesus lays out the heavy cost of discipleship in today’s gospel reading. He warns us that we can’t be his disciples unless we “hate” our family members, hate “even life itself,” and give up everything we possess. We shouldn’t set out to follow Jesus unless we know precisely how much it will cost us.
To illustrate the importance of calculating the cost, Jesus uses an analogy from warfare: “what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.” According to Jesus, kings know the absurdity of marching off to war without knowing the cost in terms of the number of lives that could be lost.
If only calculation in questions of war were always so clear. In the past weeks, a variety of presidential candidates have had to face the question, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [of Iraq]?” Many politicians claim that if they’d had more accurate intelligence, or if they’d known the upfront cost to human life, they wouldn’t have gone to war.
People have been so insulated from the true cost of war, not least of all by the long prohibition on media coverage of the returned bodies of U. S. Armed Forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now many more people know the cost in human life and trauma, as well as how little peace that cost seems to have bought us.
Today, I want to cry out to Jesus, asking how on earth to be a self-giving and peace-making disciple in a world where Jesus’ own analogies don’t seem to hold. It’s much less obvious today that the “kings” of this world can or will calculate the true cost of war, or will be able to make peace by other means.
Nevertheless, this Memorial Day we honor, thank, and pray for those who have lost their loved ones, their lives, their all in war. Who paid the very price that Jesus asks of his disciples.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.