Year C: Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lk 14: 25 – 33
LET US PRAY
We commence today with a Jewish prayer giving thanks to God for the gift of His Word.
Praise the Lord, to whom our praise is due;
Praise be the Lord, to whom our praise is due, now and forever.
Blessed is the Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has chosen us form all the peoples by giving us his Torah.
Blessed is the Lord, giver of the Torah.
Today we need to spend some time reading the gospel. We may even be dismayed at what Jesus is saying. Do not be discouraged. When scripture seems not to make sense, there is nothing wrong with the Word. We are reading with the wrong eyes.
Our first task is to give this passage a title that will reflect our understanding of this gospel. I have called it: “Our Commitment”.
All of us make large and small commitments. When we join a sports club, we make a commitment to get fit and faithfully attend the practices and matches. We marry. We enter a profession. Each one of these choices involve making an undertaking and also being prepared to pay the cost. In the case of joining a sports club we realise that on match days our time is not our own.
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25Great crowds accompanied him on his way and he turned and spoketo them.
Jesus speaks from personal experience. He asks only what he has already done and experienced. He speaks with the authority of experience. Pope Paul Vl wrote, “The modern world listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers. If it does listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses.” No wonder then that, “Great crowds accompanied Jesus.”
26If any man comes to mewithout hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own lifetoo, he cannot be my disciple. 27Anyone who does not carry his crossand come after mecannot be my disciple.
We are being invited to enter into a deep relationship with Jesus, “come to me”. He is calling us to be his disciples but just look at the condition. Surely hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life contradicts “Love your neighbour as yourself.” We are not being commanded to hate father, mother, self etc.
We find Jesus challenging the values of society. At the time of Jesus, family relationships were based on the principle of superior and inferior. A son owed absolute obedience to his father until Dad passed away and he took over. Women and children were just possessions of the man, they had no status of their own. This system runs counter to Jesus’ values which sees all as equal and deserving of the same consideration and respect.
We are being called to change. Jesus is asking us to re-examine our values. Is our thinking in line with the way Jesus calls us to live? Once we commit ourselves to living by the values of Jesus, we will never be the same. There will be much that we have to let go of and this is not going to be easy. Living out “Love your neighbour as yourself” is going to be tough. Sometimes it will seem that we have to devote our whole life to others.
“Carry your cross”. Fora long time, I thought this meant to handle the trials and tribulations of life. I really do not think that we have any choice in this instance. However, we can choose how we are going to live our lives. All of us have an abundance of talent. Taking up our cross refers to how we develop the gifts we have. God wants us to be the best people we possibly can. This is going to cost us but the benefits outweigh the sacrifices.
In his inaugural speech, Nelson Mandela said, “We are not afraid of our weakness, we are afraid of our giftedness and greatness.”
The two parables that follow are all about being prepared to pay the price of responding to Jesus’ call to be his disciple.
Our reading closes with, 33”So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions. This has nothing to do with giving up all we own. This is a wisdomsaying. We are being offered a moment of grace. Jesus is presenting to us, “Life or Death”. What choice are we going to make? Are we prepared to pay the price for choosing life?