My nephew and I had the occasion to take a drive. Riding in the car provides a safe environment for a deep conversation, simply because the driver and passenger cannot visually engage. As we were driving, we were talking about belonging to a group and being accepted by a circle of close friends. Being part of and accepted by a circle of friends is how young people begin to sort out their self-identity. It is how they learn who they are.
As we grow older the intensity for belonging lessens somewhat. Still we have a need for membership in a group. Some primary groups are a given-family for instance. Others are work related or social groups. Membership has its privileges.
In our Gospel this Sunday, we hear that mere membership is not the last word. Membership has responsibilities.
Jesus calls us to choose life – even when this involves something extremely radical. Choosing discipleship means aligning our way of thinking and acting to be that of Jesus.
Discipleship must shape our daily choices. Membership is by action. Simply having a baptismal certificate doesn’t mean we belong in the deepest sense of what belonging means. Belonging to the community of the church means taking on the vision and goals of Jesus and working each day to integrate them into our daily lives.
Faithful service is not expressed in the occasional good works. Faithful service is in the on-going patterns of unselfish, life-giving new behaviors.