In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die...On Sunday I concluded fall break by saying goodbye to six members of my immediate family who will get on a plane tomorrow for four years of service in east Asia. I will miss them tremendously.
Calling is never divorced from loss: Abraham gives up his country and his people (and even the child of the Promise himself!), Israel gives up their firstborn sons and the firstfruits of the flock and field, the prophets and disciples give up father and mother and brothers and sisters. Never is there a suggestion that these sacrifices were easy for those who made them, and never does it seem suggested that they will be for us.
It is part of a greater story of redemption, I know, part of a story wherein God redeems the world from the inside using the resurrection he has already begun in us as his Church. It is part of the story of my own resurrection, I know, part of uniting my soul to Christ who likewise gave up everything so that I can likewise share his resurrection.
But this week is not that part of the story. This week is the part wherein my brother and sister-in-law and three nephews and sister give up everything, and where I and my mother and father and brother give them up. This is the time of loss, and it would feel wrong to pretend otherwise, a disservice to the intense love we have for one another.
Christ said "Take my yoke upon me and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I know it is true. But he said it to people who would die martyrs' deaths, who would give up their families to similar deaths, and it doesn't seem to me that the yoke is "easy" the way we understand the term. Now, at any rate, is the time to die, to unite ourselves with Christ who died before us and paved the way to resurrection. One day, I'll be able to tell ya what it looks like on the other side.