Homily for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

posted Sep 6, 2016, 3:50 AM by Church Office   [ updated Sep 6, 2016, 3:50 AM by Michelle Massung ]

            With the kids starting back to school, I wanted to get back to doing some Scripture teaching and this week’s Gospel offers many teaching opportunities.  In the first line of the Gospel, we hear that great crowds were traveling with Jesus. Suddenly, he turns to his followers and us and gives a very difficult command about hating our family members so that we can be his disciples. Isn't Jesus the same person that tells us to not only love our neighbors but to also love our enemies? What does he mean that we should hate our father, mother and other family members? By hate he means that we are called to have a greater love for God than the love we have for these people. It is his way of telling us that we need to love God above all things in our lives including our families. This is not an easy commandment for us to follow. How many of us have a close family and it is our families that dictate how we spend our time during the day.

            As fathers and mothers, you work each day to provide a good life for your children. As husbands and wives, you are called to die to self for the sake of the other out of love. As children we are called to love and respect our parents. As close as our families are in today's society, the family unit during the time of Jesus was much closer and much larger. Families would live together and would be like our extended families of today which includes our aunts and uncles and cousins. The members worked to support each other. To say that you had you hate your family members as Jesus did, meant that you had to love something more than your own family. As result, you had a choice to make.  You had to either stay with your family and support them, or you had to leave your family and join the surrogate family of the teacher, in this case, Jesus.

            In an effort to help the people in the crowd that were following Jesus to make this decision, Jesus gives them two examples. The first discusses the tower to be constructed and the second about the king getting ready to go into battle. In each case, Jesus wants his followers to think carefully about renouncing their families before they become his disciples. He knows that the true cost of discipleship is very high and are they willing to pay that price. He knows that most of them are not willing to do what it takes to persevere during the tough times. For example, Jesus had a large following when he traveled from town to town, yet how many were there with him when he hung upon the cross? Only John and a few loyal women made it through till the end.

            What about us who are also followers of Jesus? Are we willing to put God ahead of everything else in our lives including our family members? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to have God first in our lives, even if that means causing problems at home or having our children throw tantrums? Are we willing to worship God above all other gods such as material possessions, power, popularity, prestige, alcohol, drugs, pornography, and other addictions? We are all called to love the creator, not the created. This week we are reminded that we must put our creator first in our lives ahead of all the created people and things in our lives. If we do, can we persevere during the tough times? If so, we too can be Jesus’ true disciples. Are you willing to put God first in your life?  Only time and your actions will give God your answer.