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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Third (23rd) Sunday of the Year C (September 8 2013)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Third (23rd) Sunday of the Year C (September 8 2013)
Theme: Requirements for Discipleship 

In today’s gospel reading (Luke 14:25-33), Jesus quickly made known to the large crowd walking along with him the requirements for following him. This indicated that it was not enough to walk along with Jesus, but we should make effort to follow him. In walking along with Jesus, we could find ourselves at a destination other than that of Jesus but following Jesus makes us true disciples who are ready to learn from him and be with him. Reflecting over the gospel, I was able to identify four requirements Jesus sets out for his would-be disciples.

The first requirement is the readiness to sacrifice our love for our family members and loved ones. When Jesus speaks of hating our father, mother, etc, he wasn’t advocating a feeling of enmity between a would-be disciple and his family. Instead, Jesus was advocating for a sense of priority in the love we have for him to the extent that no love for any other person, place or thing could be compared with it. At the moment, there could be relationships you value so much. This is the time to review such relationships in other to find out if any conflicts with our love for God. There could be people we love so much (family members, friends, colleagues, etc), places we enjoy going (bars, cinema, clubs, etc) or things we love doing (drinking, sports, etc), do they increase our love for God or prevent us from being true disciples?
The second requirement is the readiness to carry our crosses and follow Jesus. The cross is an instrument of affliction but when there is the felt consciousness of Christ on it, it becomes a symbol of salvation. Jesus invites us to carry our crosses with perseverance and hope. This cross could be the death of a loved one, it could be a terminal illness, a misfortune or even a lack. As Christians who believe in the benevolence and omniscience of God, what is our attitude to these forms of suffering? Nothing happens without God’s approval and so the difficulties we encounter are approved by God and can never be evil since God is not the source of evil. Therefore, no difficulty permitted by God is truly evil. The true evil we experience is as a result of the poor management of the difficulties we encounter. Even at that, Jesus wants us to follow him still even in the face of such difficulties.

The third requirement is having a sense of responsibility in our call to discipleship. The decision to follow Christ is like a decision to build a house. A wise builder considers the cost of his project before embarking on one so that he would not prove himself irresponsible. Likewise, Jesus wants a would-be disciple to consider the difficulties involved in discipleship before accepting the call in other not to be disappointed along the way. Some of us consider Christianity as something we can go into at any time and leave it when we feel we are tired. The call of a Christian is a call to discipleship, a call to follow Christ all the days of our lives. When we feel bored on the way and abandon Christ, we make ourselves vulnerable. Therefore, we have to be conscious of the demands and be determined to fulfill them. It is only then that God’s grace can supplement the little effort we have made. Despite the difficulties are you determined to follow Jesus till the end?

The last requirement is the wisdom to let go of whatever would hinder us from following Jesus. A wise king being threatened by a greater king would be ready to let go of whatever that is the cause of the problem so as to be free. Most often, the devil imprisons us within the confines of material possessions, power and fame but we must be ready to let go of these things in other to be free to follow Jesus. We cannot follow Christ under restriction. That was why Paul in the second reading (Philemon 9-10, 12-17) begged Philemon to receive Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother so that he (Onesimus) can follow Christ in freedom. Onesimus was Philemon’s run-away slave who met Paul in Rome. Like Onesimus, we cannot be true disciples when we run away from God or the things of God. Though we may think we are enslaved when we follow Christ, we find ourselves more enslaved with the things of the world. 

Therefore beloved brethren, as we are called to follow Christ, let us ask him for the gift of wisdom to make the right choice. The first reading (Wisdom 9:13-18) assures us that with this wisdom we can know the will of God because wisdom knows what is pleasing in the sight of God (Wisdom 9:9). This wisdom will convince us that God is aware of the difficulties we are going through and that all things work together for those who love God. Happy Sunday for God loves you.

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