The Good News for the Day, September 4, 2022
The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (120)
A Tough Challenge
Significant numbers of people were following along with Jesus. He turned to them to challenge them. “If anybody comes to follow me without separating from (“hating”) father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters – and even their own life, that person cannot be a follower of mine.
Anyone who does not carry their own cross and come the way I have come – cannot be a follower of mine.
Illustrations of Planning
“Somebody who plans to build a significant building has to sit down and figure what it will cost. Ahead of time, they need to determine whether there is enough money to finish the job. Otherwise, after laying the foundation and then finding it impossible to finish the job, the public will mock such a person. They will say, ‘This person began to build something but did not have the wherewithal to finish it!’
“Or, take another case, what national leader, deciding on a war, does not sit down and decide what do do. That leader will decide whether several regiments of their own can successfully win a war with someone else who has twice as many troops. No, while the sides are still far apart, a sensible leader will send a delegation to come to terms. That same way, anyone who doesn’t separate themselves from what they “own” cannot be a follower of mine.” (Luke 14)
Reflections of the Word of God
This last sentence summarizes the whole point. God decided on your parents, not you. It is also true, when you come to think about it, that God decided on you.
Claiming as My Own
We practice a subtle sense of ownership – what is “mine.” This practice sometimes becomes the opposite of what it should be. “My” family becomes problematic, as small flaws become sore spots. There is a deeper issue. My family belongs with me in a sense of duty. no matter now I trying, there is virtually nothing I can do to change it. I have no choice.
Jesus wants to eliminate any problematic situation by awakening you to a choice you have. You see beyond your family. You see the larger Family.
Followers of Jesus see their parents and siblings – and all relatives – as equal children of one God. The adult follower of Jesus appreciates the rich humanity in both families from the perspective of – through the eyes of – our common Creator. In this “double vision,” you see your parents with more love than the accident of birth requires. You see them as fellow humans, worthy of forgiveness, understanding, and a chosen commitment.
Your Attitude Changes
Once you grasp that this is a far better way to see your relatives and yourself than the accident of blood birth, these human beings rise in your eyes. You forgive faults, you understand hidden struggles, you love more deeply than ever! In essence, you abandon merely human relationships of the flesh. You come instead to treasure the deeper values – including our own worth. Jesus includes the rejection of your own life, and this new spirit or attitude reveals the complete changeover.
You See Them As You See Yourself
In other words, you reevaluate the project that is your lifetime. You appreciate what is involved in what you have become. And then a completely different way, you appreciate your family . It is the emotional concern as well as financial cost. The doughboy planning, responsibility, self-sacrifice and loving involved in your childhood, however flawed, has brought you to where you are.
The Building of the New Family
Following Jesus brings about this immense discovery about people. We are all Family – several families. In each Family, loving is the ever-fresh bloodstream, the DNA, and the common Spirit. You understand and forgive. Likewise, you have readied yourself to help and expect help. Furthermore, you bring peace and accept peace to your family and to the world around you – the larger family. You ultimately share grief & resurrection. What you own is God’s family and the world given to you as a gift!
The Importance Here
Jesus presents a challenge hard to understand. Knowing the spirit of love and acceptance, your very soul changes as you come to appreciate both that it is difficult at your very core to do what he says. Understanding, though, comes! What you hate is not the person, but acting out of a role. What you hate is not the fellow child of God, but the duty and burden of imposed relationships. You get to choose to love these people – and what a joy it is when you get the point! You really enjoy your family!