23rd Sunday – Year C

(This Homily is prepared by Fr. Joseph Ekalimon from Lordwar, Kenya. He is staying with me for Three months)

Wis. 9:13-18b   Ps. 90   Phlm. 9b – 10, 12-17   Lk. 14: 25-33

TRUE AND AUTHENTIC DISCIPLESHIP!

True and authentic discipleship is a conscious life choice and a bi-product of faith struggle, perseverance, mental discipline, effort and daily spiritual discernment. It pools people (us) to weigh their (our) Christian commitment, life preferences and decision making approach:  “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.” The results of the “turn-about-life-choice(s)!” can either be concrete evidential triumphs or painful life experience and occurrences. In both of these choices, God is the leveler! And anyone who continues to rely upon God’s wisdom, and accepts what He wills without coercion or force, emerges as a victor.

Our scripture readings today try to highlight more about this with three learning points:

  1. Need for God’s wisdom and inspiration in our life of true discipleship.

“For what man knows God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?”

God’s wisdom and inspiration keeps everything created alive, awake and on move! And for us to understand fully God’s creation, His purpose, counsel and intentions, our human mind requires a greater power than it because it is limited in nature and character (cf. first reading). The Holy Spirit, God’s advocate and principle of Christian life, has to inspire and enlighten our mind and heart to perceive promptly what He wills in all our aspirations, deliberations, challenges, concerns and future plans. The condition is total dependence on Him than our human wisdom and efforts.

  1. Mastering the internal principles and lessons of lose and gain in life!

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”.  Following Jesus and carrying his cross has its high and low moments, painful and joyful moments. One has to be prepared to bear the cost and pay its prize!

We see this in the two gospel parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his kingdom. Both parables directs us to focus and devote our energy for Jesus’ cause.

Apparently, Jesus’ cause and messianic role has a cyclic and thematic significance for us and the whole church. For Jesus, every biblical “Mara”, has an “Elim”; in darkness, there is light; in despair, there is hope; in death, there is new life of the resurrection, etc. How then do we respond to our life situations and circumstances?

Our second reading can help us understand more of this thought and question: Saul, a great persecutor of the people of the way, was converted by the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself to be Paul, a great missionary and founder of the early churches. From the reading, we see him as a prisoner of Christ in Rome. Philemon, a wealthy Colossian and a slave owner was converted to Christian faith by Paul. Because of this new life and their bond of relationship, Paul identifies him as a personal friend and a partner. Onesmus, a run-away slave of Philemon, now a spiritual son of Paul was sent back to him, not as a slave but a brother in Christ. Philemon was to show him sympathy, affection and Christian brotherhood.

Such spontaneous structure of lose and gain! (God-Jesus-Paul-Philemon-Onesmus) is a Christian treasure which true and authentic discipleship focuses, nurtures, builds and propagates. This needs God’s “Kairos”, His time and plan! That is why the Church always asks us not to mistake God’s patience with absence, because His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He always remains ‘Emmanuel’, God with us (Deuteronomy 3:16). Therefore, we have to be ready to open the doors of our minds and heart for God’s will to be done in and for us!

  1. Renounce and let go! Carry Jesus’ Cross.

“Whoever does not renounce all of his possessions and even life itself, cannot be my disciple”. Jesus’ words are challenging and thought provoking for all of us. By stating this, Jesus simply points out two key Christian ideals, namely: firstly, when we renounce and let go of the best of our material goods and the best of ourselves to other people, we receive the best of both! Secondly, we are always called to make responsible choices. In this case, it is a question of “either”, “or” “with Jesus” or “without Jesus”. A demand for radical change, a call to act, and individual program of involvement of giving up everything that is dear to us, including our lives. Once we choose to do this, we shall experience the freedom, liberty and Joy of the gospel in our lives. Our life’s possibilities, priorities and emotional limits are broadened. The cross will thus have a witnessing and transformative power and effect for us and the world.

Let us pray for the grace to be true and authentic disciples of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. May God’s name be praised now and forever. Amen.

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