FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: CARRYING THE CROSS OF DISCIPLESHIP!
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
*Wis 9: 13 – 18, Philem 9 – 17, Lk 14: 25 – 33.
At the 4th gear of homilitic velocity (as we discussed in last Sunday’s homily) we hear automatic maxims of Christ. Last Sunday he said that virtue without humility is useless. 2 Sundays ago he said that disciple without discipline is impossible. Today he is saying that a Christian without the cross is fake: No one who does not carry his cross and follow me can be my disciple.
The Cross is the most despised symbol in ancient Isreal because it was on the cross that the hated Romans executed troublesome Jews. The Cross is a symbol many people including believers do not like to associate themselves with. Just like the name Job has become one of the scarcest names to find in any christian register.
Another important maxim released by Christ in today’s gospel is: ‘Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, sisters, yes and his own life too cannot be my disciple. What does he mean by saying this?
*B. TEXTUAL INTERPRETATION*
(a) First, he was on the road to Jerusalem (to face the cross) and so needed within this context to provide ample meaning to his future career. He was propagating therefore, his theory of advanced discipleship /serious followership – a teaching after which, Judas and many of his disciples had to decamp.
(b) Secondly, this statement is not to be taken literally but metaphorically. Example of other such statements are: ‘Call no one father on earth’ but he means to say that no love in life must compete or compromise with the love of God, Deut 6: 4.
* Quote Fulton Sheen: ‘It is not possible for a priest to love a human being with the full powers of his soul precisely because he has already fallen in love with the perfect – namely, Christ – through His Spirit. All other love is dissatisfying and bitter ‘.
* This is why Catholic priests are advised not to marry in order to emphasize the celibate detachment required in priestly service.
– Rom 8: 35 says: ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ… Even sexual hunger or loneliness.
* Quote William Barclay: ‘It is not possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple: to be a camp follower without being a soldier of the King, to be a hanger – on in some great work without pulling one’ s weight ‘.
* A professor once denied one of his students after watching his poor performance in his examination by saying: ‘He may have attended my lectures but certainly he was not one of my students’.
There is so much fake discipleship in today’s churches because many Christians do not count the cost of discipleship before enrolling into membership.
– Jesus is not impressed by full Church cathedrals, halls, crusade grounds, etc filled by idlers, 2 Thess 3: 11, fun chasers, 2 Tim 4: 3, curiosity seekers (Areopagites, Act 17) or even troubled people or miracle seekers, Jn 6: 26 and recently, thieves/ pick pockets /car snatchers that pervade our church environments.
– The Church is supposed to be filled with people who love Jesus – followers of Christ – people who have experienced the fire of Christ (baptism of fire, as we discussed 3 sundays ago).
– Christians must count the cost of discipleship by a kind of ‘spiritual market survey’. Christ presents the kingdom of heaven like a building project where any wise undertaker must first examine the costs before plunging into it.
Spiritual entrepreneurship is all about hardwork, discipline and detachment.
– Wisdom without self control is problematic, 2 Pet 1: 6 That was why Solomon failed.
– Sir 47: 19 – ‘You abandoned your body to women and you became a slave to your appetites. You stained your honour, you profaned your stock (He impregnated a lot of foreign women outside marriage), So bringing retribution on your children and affliction for your folly – the empire split in two (1Kg 12: 16 under Rehoboam his son).
Anyone who will follow Christ must deny /discipline himself /herself – must be listening to his Word and practising it.
* A story was once told of the great War Lord, General Wellington, after defeating Napoleon, came to his Military College in England and announced to them: ‘Look, the battle of Waterloo was fought and won here’.
– Yes, our spiritual battles are won when we train /discipline ourselves in holiness with the Cross of Christ. All our sufferings and hardships are pedagogical, Rom 5: 3.
– Spiritual training is all about waging systematic war against the 4 passions of youthful materialism: (i) Lust is materialism of the body, (ii) Avarice is materialism of the heart, (iii) Pride is materialism of the soul/ mind (iv) Anger is materialism of the spirit.
Through the discipline of the Cross, a Christian learns to submit his body, heart, soul and spirit to the love of God, Deut 6: 4. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, Prov 1: 7. The grace of God makes this wisdom virtuous. Only true devotion and discipline guarantees this grace. Happy Sunday dear friends!