Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

23rd SUNDAY C

Lk 14:25-33

WITH THE ADVENT of social networking websites, following has taken a new form. The new cry today is: “Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat”. These websites aim at getting the most number of “followers” for promotion and also, product advertisement. The bigger the number of followers, the better! So, in these websites, quantity matters.

The gospel today says that great crowds were traveling with Jesus. We can only surmise that these people were impressed by Jesus’ preaching and miracles, and thus, they must be eager to join him and become his disciples. But with his succeeding exhortations, it appears that Jesus damps down their enthusiasm by throwing them challenges which are difficult to accomplish. Jesus did not soften or modify the conditions of discipleship so as to gain a large following. Rather, he insisted on it by showing them that discipleship is indeed his business and there is a cost of discipleship. Jesus mentioned three things: a) hatred toward father, mother, children et al.; b) carrying the cross; and c) renunciation of possessions.

First, Jesus says, “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”. Hatred here should be understood properly. It is a hyperbole. It is to be compared to what Matthew says in Chapter 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”.

Discipleship demands self-giving to God. A disciple gives himself /herself totally to God. A disciple gives everything to God. Thus, Jesus wanted to get rid of the hindrances to this new relationship. One hindrance could be the family. Family relationship and cohesiveness is of prime importance to the Jews. This is also true to other cultures, like the Philippines. We naturally value our family because it is a source of our security and support. We cannot live without it. But then too much attachment can be dangerous to discipleship. Too much love for the family could lead to wrong priorities in life. If we value family more than God, then it could be a problem.

Secondly, Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The Cross is the hallmark of Christianity. Its signification is always important to us. We cannot live without it.

Discipleship demands self-sacrifice. Abandoning the family cannot be easy. Only those people who have the ability to sacrifice can accomplish this. Sacrifice is not alien to us. In our day-to-day existence, we see and hear stories of sacrifices. Some parents leave their children at home and migrate to other countries for economic reasons. It was a great sacrifice for them, and they are hurting. They have felt the pain of separating themselves from their children.

We can translate this experience of sacrifice to our relationship with God. God’s words are not easy to swallow and God’s commandments are not easyto follow. Why? Because they run counter to the values of the world. This is where self-sacrifice is needed.

Thirdly, Jesus says, “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” The other hindrance to following Jesus could be possessions or riches. Obsessions with possessions can be dangerous because these would become our “gods,” and therefore, the true God would be left out. Possessions are important for our personal growth, but these should not hinder our following of Christ. This is the root of the problem in the so-called affluent or rich countries. Because they are economically or financially well, they no longer have the need of God. What is God for, they ask.

Let us remember that Jesus is interested with the quality of our discipleship. Following Jesus demands loving Him more than our family, offering of sacrifice, and loving Him more than what we possess. The followers in Facebook, Twitter etc. do not have these qualities. Jesus wants a real and genuine following. He wants us to be his true followers, his true disciples.


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