September 4, 2016 - Kneel Down and Decide for Christ
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Father Patrick Butler, LC
Luke 14: 25-33
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, "If any one 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, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come to you once again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, my faith tells me that you are present. You are ready to listen and desire to speak with me. Your presence gives me hope, because you are the all-powerful God, the creator of heaven and earth. You are the source of all that is good in my life. Nothing happens to me without your knowing and permitting it. My hope leads me to love. I want to be one with you in mind and heart, identifying myself with your will and your standards.
Petition: Lord, help me to pick up my cross and follow you.
1. The Crowd and the Disciples: "Great crowds" followed Jesus. His popularity increased. The time was ripe to win over the crowds with some promise of well-being. However, Jesus does not act like a politician. It's not about winning votes, but about winning souls with a message of salvation. It's not about empty promises, but about promises of eternal fulfillment for those who follow him. He calls me to be one of his few faithful disciples, who esteem all things as rubbish to attain Christ.
2. Hate and Love: St. John tells me that "God is love." Jesus himself tells me that the greatest commandments are to love God above all else and to love my neighbor as myself. Why then does he ask me to "hate" so many lovable people and things? Perhaps the better expression is to "renounce." Jesus asks me to love only one thing — rather, one person — absolutely. Only God should be the absolute center of my life. All other loves come after and are at the service of this supreme love. Is there something or someone that competes with God for first place in my life?
3. Opt for the Cross: If Jesus' message is not softened, it is a difficult message. Carrying one's own cross, shouldering the instrument of torture and death is the equivalent of cooperating in one's own death. That's what Christ asks me to "sit down and decide" if I am willing to do. It is the condition for becoming his disciple and for making it to the end of my life as a faithful friend and follower of my Lord.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you lead me by example. I thank and praise you, because you go before me and show me the way. You also give me strength to carry my cross every day. So, as I kneel down and consider what you ask of your followers, I decide to undertake this arduous task out of love for you.
Resolution: Looking ahead to what this day holds for me, I can identify my cross. I will resolve to carry it, asking God's help in prayer and striving to bear it with spiritual joy.