SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES: SEPT. 8 2013, 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
Gospel: Luke 14:25-33. Click here for Mass Readings for this Sunday.
This Sunday’s Context: Syria, and pending decisions about invading. Confirmed today that there are no officially over 2 million people who are refugees outside of Syria, in Lebanon, Turkey, and other countries. Within, there are 4 million displaced from their homes, living in terror of the conflict. Pope Francis has asked for prayers all over the world on this Saturday, Sept. 7th, the eve of the Birthday of Our Lady (Sept.8th). Click here for his message.
In an all-together different vein, in Ireland, we have the All-Ireland Hurling Finals,- like our own SuperBowl of Hurling, at 3.30pm this Sunday,- between two Counties, Clare and Cork. This game of amateurs playing at the highest level of skills, will be the talk of the weekend.
Thomas More, counselor of law and patron of statesmen, merry martyr and most human of saints: “I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know this day living: for I know not where he may hap to carry it.” —Dialogue on Conscience, to his daughter, in prison, August 1534
Will we pin our souls, pin our believing, on other people’s level of faith and choice about Christ? If we do, where could it lead us? We are invited to do our own thinking, today, in what is not an easy Gospel passage for any of us.
Is there anything or anyone I would prefer to Jesus? Who are the people in my life who are Numero Uno, compared with Jesus? It’s tough when he says that he wants to be Numero Uno in our lives. Nothing milk-and-watery about Jesus and what he asks of those who are his ‘disciples’,- (a word meaning, people who are listeners & learners). ‘I will follow you, yes, but…’, we might say: or ‘You can be My Lord, surely, but kind of…sometimes…not all the time…’ When the Master asks us to make up our minds, to decide about him, to make a firm choice, that’s not easy, but he doesn’t really give us a choice. ‘Come, follow me!’ ‘Leave father and mother behind…’ ‘Count the cost…’ Remember his saying in St. John: ‘When you see me, you see the Father!’ Nothing vague about that. It’s either fake, foolish, or for real.
A friend of mine was in southern Russia some years ago, when the Soviet Union was still in existence, and Communism ruled supreme. He and a friend were in Georgia as tourists, and went to Mass in a house where people had gathered. He told me afterwards that he never heard the Creed, the Credo (“I believe…’) said with such conviction and heart. For these people to be followers of Christ, to be Catholics, was to put their lives on the line. They could not hold any public offices, they were ostracized; their families were watched and suffered many hardships,- and all because they dared to publicly declare themselves as followers of Jesus, the Christ, the Master. It cost them!
A Presbyterian lady in Belfast became a Catholic some few years ago. Her own family disowned her for quite a few years, and it was a huge emotional cost for her. But she had to follow her own conscience and do what she had to do. It cost her!
Jesus does not at all ask us to ‘hate’ anyone belonging to us. This saying in the Gospel today is using a Semitic or Jewish way of speaking, putting everything in black and white terms, for stark effect. He does ask us to make our own choices, to stand on our own feet, even if it means distance from former friends, even from family members. Following Jesus today, in 2013, will cost us.
We are invited to sit down, add up the cost, and then make our own decision. Jesus honours that freedom in us.
‘No matter how tall your grandfather was, you must do your own growing.’
See again St. Thomas More’s statement to his daughter, while he was in prison awaiting his death,- this Thomas More who was a statesman, lawyer, ‘merry martyr and most human of saints’: “I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know this day living: for I know not where he may hap to carry it.”
‘Come, follow me!’ is personal to each person, within our own families and our community. And then we seek out and find others who have chosen to be his disciples. We find a community,- even of one other person!- where we can, with others, proclaim our own Credo, alongside them. As you read this, could you discuss it with one or more around you? Can you tease it out, individually together! -? ‘When two or more of you are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of you’.
For a poem/reflection by Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.,entitled ‘Jesus is Lord’ (well, kind of, sort of…) click here.