One day when in a shop in a poor area of Buenos Aires, I witnessed a rather sad situation: a very poor couple with five children were buying food. The children were pointing at various goods which they would like their parents to purchase. One child called the mother and pointed to eggs on a shelf. The mother called the father and they both counted the coins in the mother’s hand, looked at the price of the eggs, then bought just one egg. Then then counted the money they had left, surveyed the price on a packet of pasta and bought it. The father, mother and children left for home, one child clutching joyfully the packet of pasta. This couple had just one aim in mind, imbued with their God-given wisdom, they counted the cost and provided food for their family. As they left the shop, the little girl, still clutching the pasta, smiled back at me, and that smile was like a mini resurrection.
In Luke 14: 25-33, it seems that Jesus wanted his disciples to count the cost of following him – he asks that they break off any bonds with family or friends that might hinder their following him closely. He asks his disciples to give up all their possessions. I would like to allude here to the first reading in this Sunday’s Mass – Wisdom 9: 13-18, “As for your intention, who could count it had you not granted wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit from above?” In the process of breaking the necessary links with family and friends, and divesting themselves of all their possessions, Jesus’ disciples were granted the Wisdom and the Spirit of God. Jesus knew that this process would change them. They would become like Jesus himself. This was the cross that Jesus invited them to carry and within the cross lay their transformative process.
In our society today, we find a deeper awareness of the fact that humanity is closely linked to the earth beneath our feet. This awareness brings its own pain. We notice the damage being done by multiple organizations that exploit the resources of the earth. These organizations ruin our ecosystems and bring about death and destruction to human beings and to many forms of life. This is nature’s cross.
Many of us are in awe at the beauty of the world around us. Nature has been depicted in art forms down through the ages. In more modern times, we have become aware of the interconnectedness of all things. We recognize that we humans are mature. We know that we are all one body and have the same creator Spirit racing through us. There is really only one cross. Jesus is with us in our personal suffering, he is with us when we identify with the suffering and evolution of creation. He is there, when at this point in time many of us are counting the cost of living, and of course when we count our blessings.
Kathleen Egan, OP