My family used to be obsessed with cake/baking reality TV shows. Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, the Great British Bake Off, Cake Wars, Cupcake Wars, and Nailed It were just a few of our favorites. With the exception of Nailed It, at some point in many of these shows, the awesomely designed and physics defying confection would be carried or wheeled out and the recipient would undoubtably say, “It’s so cool/beautiful, I don’t know if I can eat it.” Without fail the baker then swiftly says that of course you have to eat it and promptly starts cutting pieces.
The old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” remains true in most cases. Many experiences in life require us to make a decision. The truth of the matter is that no decision is, in fact, a decision. And, at least when it comes to cake, even if we choose “cake” over “eat it,” we actually get neither because cake doesn’t last too long before it isn’t beautiful or delicious.
In the gospel this Sunday, Peter wants to have his cake and eat it too. Peter wants Jesus to fulfill his mission and save mankind, but he doesn’t want to see Jesus suffer and die. Furthermore, Jesus says that if you want to be his disciple, then you must follow him even unto suffering and death.
We are presented with the same decision that Peter has here – do we want to follow Jesus? If we answer yes, then we must be ready to give up everything to do so. If we want to live, we must be willing to die. There is no half-way discipleship of Jesus Christ. St. Therese of Lisieux said this about sainthood, “You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.”
This is a hard teaching. Most of my life has been spent working a situation so that I could get the best of both worlds. Being all the way committed to the point of no return isn’t something I do well. If you’re at all like me, the idea of making a complete and total decision and not trying to find a way to have your cake and eat it too is hard to swallow. So how do I do it?
When Captain Hernán Cortés arrived in the New World from Spain in 1519, it is reported that he ordered his men to burn the boats they arrived in. Why? Because he didn’t want to leave any option of leaving. The decision had been made.
What are the faith or life style boats that we haven’t burnt yet? What are our easy ways out of being sold out for Jesus? I think if we can identify the ways we wiggle out of a firm commitment to Christ in our behavior or life, we can start to make the changes that demonstrate the decision that we’ve made.
The reality is that we have a limited amount of time to make this important decision. Are you trying to follow Jesus with every aspect of your life? If not, what boats do you need to burn to more completely, totally follow him?
LIVE IT: Make a list of 3 reason you miss prayer or Mass or reconciliation. Burn one of them. If you need to literally write it on a piece of paper and set it on fire (outside, with a proper fire receptacle). Once you burn it (mentally or otherwise), you can’t ever use that excuse again. Then pray or get to Mass.