I was talking with a friend about a story we read about a Korean woman who was killed in 1839 by Korea's pagan regime. She and her husband were arrested for their faith (catholics were being persecuted during this regime) and imprisoned. While in prison, she was made to listen to the screams of her twelve-year-old son being tortured in an adjacent cell. Her cruel captors would torment her further by describing to her afterwards how they had tortured her child. She was beheaded at the age of 36 because she would not renounce her faith.
Having children, my friend and I wondered whether if faced with a similar choice we would choose faith or our children.
We pray we never have to make that decision, and also pray for those around the world who even today have choices like that to face.
Today's gospel reading is related to this. It is from Luke 14: 25-33. I'll let you read it for the details. Basically, Jesus addresses the crowds and tells them that if they choose to follow Him, all else comes second--family included. And then he asks who, if planning a project (I'm very much paraphrasing here) does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion.
You think about your choice, you understand what it can cost you, and you continue forward--not in blindness, but in full understanding of the consequences.
Following Jesus is not for the faint-hearted. It is not a "happy" life, per se. It is joyful, and full of peace, but Jesus did not promise us happiness on this earth. We are asked to follow a God/man who leads us to the cross.
I've been praying since age 17 that if presented a situation where my choice to follow Him could mean I give my life, that He give me the grace and strength to say yes to Him. I pray now that if presented a situation where my choice to follow Him could mean my children lose their lives, that He give me the strength and the grace to say yes to Him. To give life for Life.
Because without Him, nothing else matters or has meaning. Not even my children's lives.