Today as we celebrate the memorial of St Irenaeus, Fr Peter reads from the Gospel of Matthew (8: 18-22) about the cost of following Jesus.
St Irenaeus lived in the early 2nd Century and was ordained a priest in France and later became a Bishop. He truly defended the faith, which led to his martyrdom early in the 3rd Century.
It is no coincidence, Fr Peter says, that we hear of the call to discipleship, the call to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, in today’s Gospel. We know that such a call is radical. It truly shakes us out of our apathy – when we feel comfortable and that all is going well. Hearing a passage such as today’s it helps us realise that to truly follow God in our life it means letting go. It’s about letting go of whatever we may attach ourselves to. It’s not just material things, it could be expectations; it could be anything that seems to create obstacles in our life.
When we think of St Irenaeus, who we venerate today, he is one who truly gave his life to the end. In terms of the life he led, Fr Peter says, we should be encouraged in our faith and, when we are called to defend the truth, we speak that truth with love – a love that can truly enter the heart of those we encounter.
When we think of having free will and knowledge and exercise that freedom accordingly, there are times when it is not easy to follow God in our life. At times, we would rather embark on a different path that we believe will make us happy, but we know when our hearts are restless and when we try to fill the emptiness that seems to weigh on our heart. We know that by trying to put God to the side or by doing whatever we can to not let God dictate the way we live; we forget this radical call of discipleship. When this happens, hopefully, St Irenaeus will encourage us, whatever we come across, whatever seems to be a great challenge, to take up the cross and follow our Lord Jesus.
In closing, Fr Peter prays that we may truly come to hear the call to follow God, even at times when we would rather not. And by doing so, the reward the awaits us is one for which we can truly give thanks to God. Through the sacrifice of the Son of God, who died on the Cross for us as a great act of love, may we truly give ourselves to this call of discipleship and follow him.