On this Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the spirit of commitment and the self-sacrifice of Christ. It was this spirit that made Jesus give up everything, including his own life for our sake. So, that through this same spirit, we can become Christ’s true disciples.
Today, Jesus calls for authentic discipleship. Are you ready to be Jesus’ disciple? Real disciples are ordinary people who are filled with an extraordinary determination to choose and keep choosing Jesus in the midst of so many voices clamoring for our attention and commitment.
Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem where He will soon die on the Cross. This is the context in which Jesus speaks about discipleship. Following Him is never easy; it means giving up the things that we love the most. Giving them up could be the hardest thing to do for we are attached to many things. Some of us are attached to relationships. Many of us are attached to material possessions. Others are attached to their ambition and dreams. Jesus is telling us to choose Him and put Him first in our lives. How many of us are ready for that? Am I ready? What are the things I cannot let go?
The key word that sums up today’s Gospel passage is commitment – Commitment of the whole person that involves a total detachment from people and material possessions. A commitment that implies that we love families and even ourselves, less than we love God our Father.
Unless we give up all these possessions that we think we can’t live without, we can never be Jesus’s disciples. He says, “Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) One should reflect deeply in order to get to the bottom of what Jesus meant by such strong words. Was our Lord teaching us to hate our parents, or spouse, and or brothers and sisters and even ourselves? NO! Not at all! He loved and obeyed His own parents. His Mother, Mary was one of His first and best disciples. We do not interpret this text literally. Our Lord Jesus was making a strong statement. He wanted to shock his listeners to get their attention. The use of the word ‘hate’ here, was just a metaphor. ‘Hate’ here means only to detach oneself. It also means to love less and not to take it as a sole priority.
When we choose Jesus, it should be a full commitment. We should never allow any other commitments to take priority. It tells us that following Jesus is never easy. It entails hardship, pain and sacrifices. The cost of discipleship is the Cross. “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Jesus demands a full commitment, a complete giving of oneself. It is understandable for when He committed Himself to the will of the Father, it was a complete obedience. When He gave His love for us, it was without reservation to the extent of accepting death on the Cross. So it’s only fitting that when we decide to follow Jesus, it should be a full commitment and it demands sacrifice. He came to save the world and He came to save it through pain and sorrow, rejection and everything that His disciples would be frightened of and would never commit themselves to.
In our following of Jesus, we need to know that there is a price to pay. In the two parables, Jesus spoke of a person building a tower and a king going to battle. Both of them wisely counted the costs before deciding what to do. If this was not done, they would start but would lack the perseverance to complete their tasks.
Today, are we ready to be Jesus’ disciples? Are we willing to follow Him, out of love and to the very end?
With Love & Peace
Patrick & Jackie