XXIII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
wisdom 9:13-18; philemon 9-10, 12-17; luke 14:25-33
some time ago, a priest invited me to preach a retreat for his school boys. since he is a dear friend, i said yes without any hesitation. i did not consider my community and province responsibilities; i did not consider my health or that i’d have to manage a hundred boys. and i struggled. before, during and after! and i wished—quite often—that i had not said «yes»!
have you ever felt that way?! we take up invitations/ tasks/ responsibilities… without realizing their demands, and then fail/ struggle to honour them.
we cannot do the same with christian discipleship! we need to know the cost of discipleship, and consider whether we have the resources to meet it (notwithstanding grace which is an absolute need!) before we commit ourselves.
jesus uses two parables to stress the point: before beginning construction, a builder would work out the cost of his defence tower; before battle, a king would consider whether his outnumbered army would be able to face the enemy.
the advice is clear: take time. sit down and look at the demands. figure out whether you can honestly meet them. jesus’ demands total and unconditional commitment expressed in strange terms: «hating father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters…»
in aramiac, «hate» is not a feeling word! it is a priority word: to say that i love one and hate another means that i choose to carry out my commitments to one in preference to the other when these commitments are in conflict. no commitment, however important, can come before our commitment to GOD.
the second reading gives us the cost of discipleship for philemon!
were philemon not a christian, he could have killed onesimus or punished him so severely that he would never again consider running away. but as a christian dealing with a christian, he had to accept the runaway slave... as a brother!
what is the cost of discipleship for me?
do i have to give up my hatred/resentment against those who hurt me? my attachments to people and things? what are the commitments and relationships that i have to «hate» so that i can commit myself to jesus?