Pondering for Sunday September 8, 2019

Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 18 Year C

Jeremiah 18:1-11  Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17 Philemon 1-21  Luke 14:25-33

“Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14: 25 – 26)

Hate?  This English word is way too strong for the way Jesus is intending to mean it and the way the people around him understood it. Hate, the way we understand it is to have a strong negative emotion towards someone even in the absence of care and concern and love for someone else.  We can hate one person and love another and the two persons have nothing to do with each other.  Jesus is using this term as mutually inclusive; he is saying you can’t be his disciple unless you have put everybody else aside or behind me. Jesus is saying he is in the relationship but that he must be the priority.

In our Wednesday Spanish class the language was much different than hate, a softer expression was used.  Jesus said (in translated Spanish) unless we are willing to postpone or put aside our parents, children, spouse, and siblings we cannot be his disciples.

Even the language that follows, from farming peasants to ruling kingdoms, from lowest to highest, the costs of discipleship must be dealt with.  We must ask ourselves, first, if we think we are even able to pay the price. And then second, if we are willing to pay the price.

Jesus is not asking us to choose between him and the devil; that would be too easy.  Jesus is asking us to choose him over parents, spouse, children and siblings.  These might seem like hard choices but the truth is that if we make Jesus the priority we are better able to love parents, spouse, children and siblings.  Through Jesus we can love them more deeply.

In this passage Jesus has shifted from talking to the twelve to the great multitude.  There is much enthusiasm and shallow delight in the walk towards Jerusalem. Jesus wants them to be well aware of what it means to keep his movement going.

Sometimes people who love this church don’t want us to tell perspective new members about the cost of discipleship; about the cost of maintaining a church.  They would rather postpone it until a more opportune time, or just drop it altogether.  Jesus said no. He wants to let them know right from the start the cost of the journey he is on to Jerusalem. He wants then to know that this is not a parade but rather a funeral procession. Now, who’s in?

The cost of discipleship is not about our possessions but about being happy in pleasing God and having eternal life.  We can’t afford not to be in.

Ponder anew what the Almighty is doing. John+

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