September 4, 2016
The Gospel Today
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“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.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
REFLECTION (Sem. Jeffrey A. Danan)
Discipleship requires detachment. This is the invitation of today’s Gospel. Jesus was clear in saying, “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.” (Luke 14:26) We must be totally detached from anything and anyone if we are to follow Jesus.
Priesthood is a way of detaching from the world and purifying it also with the call to be selfless and loving. The decision to leave the family, work, friends, lifestyle is in some way an act of detachment and self-giving, although this act would only be genuine if it is integrated within a person’s disposition. This was exactly what I did after I completely discerned and decided to heed in the call of priestly vocation. After my long years of stay overseas I detached myself from my career and decided to follow what my heart beats.
To be a disciple is to carry his cross every day. This might be in the form of challenges in academics, apostolate or community. Following Christ means offering our lives selflessly for the glory of God. In formation, as a newly invested seminarian, there’s always a delight in me to see myself wearing the soutane. It is more than just the vestment that I long to wear; as a seminarian, it also means a greater responsibility in formation. It also represents Christ embracing me despite of my unworthiness and failures.
The hardships and trials are great opportunities to experience God as the source of our daily strength in carrying the cross for His sake. True discipleship for Christ Jesus is felt only when we suffer for His sake, when we are willing to carry our cross for His sake, and when we are willing to give even our very lives so that others may live and have that encounter with Jesus. This is the real essence of authentic discipleship for Jesus.
He cares and He is with us even in the difficult episodes of our life. What Jesus is telling us in the Gospel is: if you want to really follow Me be prepared to persevere; be prepared to carry your own cross; and be prepared to sacrifice and leave your own comfort zones for my sake. To follow Jesus amidst the trials and persecution is the best decision that we can ever do in our lives.