HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: REQUIREMENTS/CONDITIONS OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP
BY: Fr. Ifeanyi Amobi
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
1st Reading, Wisdom 9:13-18; 2nd Reading, Philemon 9-17; Gospel, Luke 14:25-33)
Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
In today’s Gospel passage (Luke 14: 25-33), Jesus again lays out the conditions and requirements of true discipleship. Jesus says, “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.” This is a strong statement from Jesus Christ. But what does this statement mean? What actually is Jesus teaching us?
When Jesus was asked, “which commandment in the law is the greatest”? He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment” (Mt. 22: 36-38). This answer from Jesus underscores the fact that any act of love greater than the love of God is a hatred of God by comparison. Therefore, Jesus was not advocating that we must literally hate our family, friends, and ourselves in order to qualify to be His disciple. Instead, he is teaching us that the love of family, the love of friends, and even the love of self can never supersede the love of God. The love of family, friends, and self can never be a hindrance to being a fervent and committed disciple of Jesus Christ. There should be an attitude of detachment from family, friends, and our possessions.
God must be loved preeminently above all things. Therefore, if ever there comes a time when the call of the highest earthly love (love of family, friends, and self) and the love/cross of Christ are in conflict, the love/cross of Christ must take precedence and should prevail at all times. According to Jesus, a disciple is someone who loves God more than anyone else—even family, friends, and self. A true disciple of Christ is one who understands this fact and acts on it.
Again, Jesus says, “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” We live in an era where the gospel message about the cross, suffering, and pain is considered taboo and foolish. The message of the cross has become abhorrent to some Christians and Evangelists alike. The words of St Paul come to mind, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). We all love prosperity and fall in love with the gospel message that promises us that. But Christ’s challenge to us today is, “carry your own cross and come after me” so as to be my disciple.
The life of Christ is the life of the cross. The cross has salvific and redemptive effects because it is through the cross that Jesus Christ brought salvation to humankind; thus, “NO CROSS, NO CROWN.” Therefore, by challenging us to carry our crosses, Jesus Christ is telling us to follow in his footsteps. By asking us to bear our crosses, Jesus Christ is telling us to die to ourselves, laying aside our personal desires and ambitions so that God can reveal His desires and goals for our lives. In essence, it is living a life as it is meant to be lived, in and according to the will of God. It is accepting and offering up our life’s problems, sufferings, pains, sicknesses, obstacles, trials, and tribulations without complaint and in total submission to God.
Jesus Christ is teaching us today that a choice to be His disciple is always a conscious and intentional choice made in freedom. It is not just what we dabble or rush into without reasoning. It is what we weigh the pros and cons before making a rational decision. Just like the builder checks his financial stand before starting to lay the foundation, and the King checks the strength of his troops before embarking on a war, the disciple of Christ should always count the cost of discipleship to make a better judgment.
The task of counting the cost of discipleship is enormous. It deals with the things of heaven and therefore is in the realm of the divine. It entails knowing what is the will of God at all times. Human knowledge is limited. The book of wisdom (Wis. 9:13-18) tells us that such knowledge can only come from God, who gives wisdom and sends His Holy Spirit from on high. He alone can lead us along the straight and right path.
Always remember that Jesus loves you!