NOVEMBER 3. Ord Time B. Wk 31. Wed. Lk 14. 25-33
Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So, in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’
We are told today that “great crowds” were following Jesus, a fact borne out by the feeding of the multitude where the number of seven thousand is mentioned, so there were clearly many people interested in Christ’s teachings, wisdom and miracles.
But now he wanted to tell them being “interested” in his teachings, and even believing in what he was saying was not enough; - their interest had to be converted into both faith and deeds; - and he then used some very strong words.
“If anyone wants to follow me, he must hate not only his family, but also his life; - and if my followers do not embrace the Cross generously; - they cannot be my disciple,” – the message being that there were genuine sacrifices to be made in order to be a Christian.
As St John of the Cross puts it; - “the doctrine the Son of Man came to teach was contempt for all things; - in order to receive, as a reward, the Spirit of God himself. For as long as the soul does not reject all things, it has no capacity to receive the Spirit of God.!”
Clearly, listening to the wisdom of Christ’s teachings, or being impressed by the way he performed miracles, or enjoying the social gathering with the crowd, would lead to nothing. There had to be a conversion of heart, that results in works and deeds, based on one’s faith.
And this is the point made in the second half of the reading; - “Which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work!”
Obviously, Christ does not want his followers to “hate” their family; - in the same way he said if you hand is causing you to sin “cut it off”; - but the point of the teaching today is none of our “loves” (and we have many of them!) must be allowed to take precedence over our love for God!
So, in reading this passage we need to see it as Christ addressing all the “things” and “attractions” we give our hearts to. The point he is making is the things we seek and “love” can easily become obstacles to love of God and love of the Cross!
Gospel Acclamation 1P4:14
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of God rests upon you.
First reading Romans 13:8-10
Your only debt should be the debt of mutual love
Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.