The liturgy this week continues to instruct us in the elements of discipleship. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission Christ gives to his Church.

We’re not all called to the ministry of the apostles, or to be prophets like Elisha in the first reading. But each of us is called to a holy life (see 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

At baptism, our lives were joined forever to the cross of Christ, as Paul tells the epistle. Baptized into his death, we’re to renounce sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.

We are to follow him, each of us taking up our personal cross, as Jesus says in the Gospel. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death. But each of us is called to self-denial, to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan.

Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives — above even our closest bonds of kinship and love. By baptism, we’ve been made part of a new family — the kingdom of God, the Church. We are to proclaim that kingdom with our lives, bringing our fathers and mothers, and all men and women to live as “little ones” under the fatherhood of God and the kingship of the Holy One.

We do this by opening our hearts and homes to the service of the Lord, following the Shunnamite woman’s example in the first reading. As Jesus tells us, we’re to receive others — not only prophets, but also little children, the poor and the imprisoned — as we receive Christ himself (see Matthew 18:5; 25:31—46).

As we sing in the psalm, we are to testify to his favors and kindness in our lives.

We’re to hold fast to the promise — that if we have died with Christ, we shall also live, that if we lose our lives for his sake, we shall find our reward, and walk forever in his countenance. 

Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology,