FR. JUSTIN’S HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: “TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME”
BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
The kingdom of God is not for those who do not want to make sacrifices, yet they want to get the reward of heaven. It is not for the faint-hearted who are afraid of making big sacrifices for the sake of their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus did not want to take us unawares, and that is why he prepared our minds for the challenges we are going to face if we sincerely wish to follow him.
In the gospel reading of today Jesus warns us, “If anyone comes to me and does not love me more than he loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. He who does not carry his own cross and does not come after me cannot be my disciple.” However, Jesus is not advocating for enmity among members of the same family, but rather he is advocating for the need to have a sense of priority in the love we have for him. And the love we have for him should be greater than the love we have for our family members. It takes a lot of sacrifice for one to be called a true Christian. It is not always all about joyful moments, sometimes we must have to go through persecutions, suffering, and sometimes we would even get to a point where we feel abandoned by God. Many people will hate us and criticize us and make every effort to discourage us from worshiping God. Sometimes our distraction can come from our workplace, from lack of money, sickness, failed relationships, failed plans and even from our family and those whom we love, yet we must never give up in following Christ.
To follow Christ also demands making tough decisions to conquer our addictions. It demands from us a detachment from earthly possessions. It demands so much preparations from us. Jesus compared the preparation for the kingdom of God with the preparation of someone who intends to build a tower, and also the preparation of a king who intends to go to war with another king. Both of these two examples require effective preparations. Apostle Paul in the second reading was writing to Philemon from the prison. And the only crime for which he was imprisoned was because of his faith in Christ. Are we ready for such sacrifice? The truth is that no one is prepared enough for the sacrifice without the grace of God. Jesus at the height of his suffering at Calvary cried out, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me.” And if Jesus as God and as man could cry out at the moment of his suffering, what about us who are only mere mortals. However, we do not need to be afraid. The writer of the book of Wisdom asks, “Who would have known your will, if you had not given him wisdom and had you not sent your holy spirit to him from above?” We have already received the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit is ever ready to accompany us even in our moment of weakness. The Holy Spirit will speak for us when we lack words to speak, and will always intercede for us from God the Father. We therefore pray in this holy mass for the grace to love God above all things, so as to inherit the kingdom of God on the last day.