23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Father Peter Chinnappan
OT XXIII [C] (9/8/2019) Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25–33
Central theme: Today’s readings challenge us to the true Christian discipleship of total commitment to the will of God, putting God first in our lives.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, instructs us to ask for the gifts of discernment and strength from the Holy Spirit so that we may do the will of God as His true disciples. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), instructs true disciples to lead holy lives by remaining constantly aware of the brevity and uncertainty of life.
The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, teaches us that detachment and renunciation are necessary for a true disciple of Christ. As a responsible Apostle and zealous disciple of Christ, Paul had to renounce the service of his new helper, Onesimus, and return him to his master. As a new disciple of Christ, Onesimus had to leave Paul, face his owner as a runaway slave and accept the consequences.
Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a disciple and follower of Christ because the cost is high: true Christian discipleship requires one to “renounce” both earthly possessions and possessions of the heart (i.e., one’s relationships). In today’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship. i) Renounce too much attachment to family, giving priority to God and His commandments. ii) Break off the excessive attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing one’s blessings with others. iii) Accept the hard consequences of discipleship which include daily sacrificial service done for others and even the giving one’s life for them. iv) Calculate the cost involved in following Jesus. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says: think long and hard about Christian discipleship before a decision is made.
Life messages: We need to accept the challenge of Christian discipleship with heroic commitment and practice it. We do so:
1) by daily recharging our spiritual batteries through prayer, i.e., by talking to God, and by listening to Him through the meditative reading and study of the Bible;
2) by sharing in God’s life through frequent and active participation in the Eucharistic celebration;
3) by practicing the spirit of detachment and the renunciation of evil habits;
4) by giving our time, talents and resources generously, for the Lord’s work in the Church universal, and especially in our parish community, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
5) by loving all God’s children, especially the less fortunate ones, through humble and selfless acts of kindness, mercy, forgiveness and service;
6) by showing true commitment to the obligations and duties entrusted to us by our vocation in life and our profession, like fidelity in marriage and firm adherence to justice in our living and profession.