Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2021
In the spring of 2003, a feature-length film appeared in theaters telling the true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who defied Hitler and gave witness to the gospel in the face of the Nazi tyranny. One of Bonhoeffer’s best-known books is The Cost of Discipleship. Its very title comes to mind as I read today’s Gospel. Here, Jesus teaches his disciples that he will suffer and die, but the disciples are not only baffled by what the Lord is telling them: they’re too busy arguing over who among them is the greatest!
Jesus must remind them once again that the Kingdom demands a lot of the disciple. True greatness lies in service. True disciples take the side of those who are powerless--like the little child Jesus embraces in the story.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived at a time when many religious people chose to ignore a great evil or worse, collaborate with it. Bonhoeffer wrote, taught, and eventually gave his life in a Nazi prison to witness to what the gospel demands: We must speak for the voiceless even if our service costs us our own lives.
Today’s Christians may not face evil on such a global scale, but they nevertheless have lots of opportunities for true Christian witness. May Christ give us strength to consider--and to pay--the cost of discipleship.