September 8, 2019: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Luke 14:25-33
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what ruler marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? If not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
When I hear this story about Jesus I wonder just what it was that attracted people to him. Great crowds are following him and he talks about hating one’s own family members, taking up a cross (hated and feared symbol of public execution), renouncing all their possessions. I’m sure those followers were not that different from us. Family, life itself, and possessions represented their security. What else is there?
Jesus’ comparisons to making plans to build a tower or wage a war seem to indicate he’s talking about priorities, using good common sense to weigh pros and cons. If I were in that crowd my head would be spinning. The last line: “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple,” seems to be the reason the Church chose this reading at this point in the Church year.
Those of us who gather to hear and ponder these words are baptized and confirmed as Jesus’ disciples. I think we are being asked to look at our lives and our priorities. If someone were to look at our checkbooks, calendars, clutter — what specific evidence would they find that we are Jesus’ disciples?
This week spend some time examining your own discipleship against the priorities Jesus outlines today. How do I spend money, on whom and for what? How do I spend at least some of my time for others? Is it time to simplify my life in terms of possessions?