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Homilies :: Latin Rite
Sunday of the 23rd week in Ordinary Time Download This Homily

September 8, 2019

Sunday of the 23rd week in Ordinary Time

 

Wis 9: 13-18b,

Psalm 90: 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14&17

Philemon 9-10, 12-17

Lk 14: 25-33

 

(Please scroll down for the homily on the Nativity of Mother Mary)

 

Gospel Reading

 

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on His way and He turned and spoke to them. "Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, his own life too, cannot be my disciple. No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can 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, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying, ‘Here is someone 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 was advancing 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 without giving up all that he owns.”

 

Reflection


Single-minded Commitment

 

From the parable of the Banquet, one might get the impression that entering the kingdom of God is as simple and effortless as accepting an invitation. Jesus hastens to correct this wrong impression asking us to calculate the cost. The computation includes one variable: our readiness for God or to have the right scale of values. If we intend building a tower, we must make sure that we have the required materials; or if we are going to engage in battle, we need to ascertain our chances of victory. The same way or more, some things are absolutely essential if we intend to be faithful to our commitment to God.


The word ‘hate’ in today’s gospel has a connotation different from English. We think of hate as being the opposite of love, and both love and hate as focusing on a feeling of attraction or repulsion. However, in the Bible through, neither word focuses on feelings. In the Aramaic idiom spoken by Jesus, to love means to carry out one’s obligations faithfully in regard to someone, no matter how one might feel. To hate is to fail to carry out these obligations. In this sense, to say that you love one person or group and hate another is to say that you choose to carry out your commitments to one in preference to the other when these commitments are in conflict. Jacob loved Rachel, and hated Leah means that Rachel came first in his affections. God loved Jacob and hated Esau, that is to say, he favoured Jacob over Esau in carrying out God’s particular mission.


The point Jesus is making is that no commitment, however sacred, can come before our commitment to the God. We are to seek God always first and we fulfil our commitments to people only in so far as these do not contradict our commitment to God. The ties of family are not absolute. Jesus has already made it clear that ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’


God’s invitation to us is gratuitous; but Jesus wants us to be aware that following Him will cost us everything. The decision to follow the Lord demands a complete realignment of our priorities. Taking up the cross is not an option when following Jesus. For some, the cross means martyrdom, whereas for others it means suffering great hardships for the sake of the Gospel, may be through the day to day events and situations cropping up in our daily lives. What is required here is a detachment that places us at God’s disposal. To follow Jesus in our daily practice is to do whatever life demands of us to live our lives as Jesus did to the end.


To be disciples of Jesus demands a single-minded commitment to God to do His will and to give up all our possessions. Christian detachment, however, does not mean holding back from being really involved in this world. Rather it is a matter of being attached to people and to things in such a way that we are willing to let them go if and when we are called by God to do so. As John of the Cross notes in the Ascent of Mount Carmel, it makes little difference whether the leg of bird is tied with a strong rope or with the tiniest thread. If anything is holding it, it cannot fly. Flight to God cannot occur till all attachments that cause us to resist the call of grace are broken, however apparently insignificant they may appear.


Similarly, says Jesus, no one can be a disciple of his who is not ready to let go of everything he has. The following has to be absolute and unconditional. How many of the crowd then listening were ready for that? How many of us are ready for that now? Am I ready? And what are the things I am clinging to? What are the things I cannot let go of? And why? To be a disciple of Jesus means being absolutely free. It reminds one of Francis of Assisi leaving his family and taking off all his rich and fancy clothes to replace them with a beggar’s rags and being filled with a tremendous sense of joy and liberation. Do I want to be a disciple of Jesus? To what extent? Am I ready to pay the price he asks? The paradox is that once I pay the price I will get so much in return. Ask St. Chavara or St. Alphonsa or Bl.Mother Teresa …


Jesus was an inspiration for many to give up their comforts and even to accept difficulties, including death in order to serve the poor and the needy. Fr. Damian is an excellent example. When he opted to go to Moloka to take care of the lepers he knew that he was taking the risk of being affected by leprosy. After sixteen years’ caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, Father Damien died of the disease. He has been described as a ‘Martyr of Charity”


Sister Valsa John who had organized local indigenous people in Jharkhand state to demand compensation from Panem Coal Ltd, a mining company operating in the area was brutally murdered four years ago. Many years she worked for the Santal indigenous people in the state’s Dumka Diocese and fought against the exploitation of the mining company. She was killed after a mob brutally attacked her at night with axes, sticks and knives. She had known that the vested interests were targeting her; but she did not withdraw from fighting for the rights of the exploited tribals. Indeed she was carrying the cross for the liberation of the tribals; she was participating in the liberative mission of Jesus.


Social activists who fight for the rights of tribals, dalits, women and the farmers who are displaced without proper rehabilitation and compensation are carrying the cross. All those who raise their voice against injustice and have to suffer as a consequence are carrying the cross of Jesus.


Unfortunately, cross which is a symbol of courage and determination to commit oneself for continuing the liberative mission of Christ has become an object of worship. Today’s Gospel invites the followers of Jesus to commit themselves to the liberative mission of Jesus and become true disciples of Jesus.

 

Fr.Jacob Peenikkaparambil

 

 

THE NATIVITY OF MOTHER MARY

 

What are my sentiments when I celebrate the birthday of my mother? I have the sentiments of gratitude, appreciation, admiration and pride. I am grateful to my mother for the love and affection she has showered on me. I am grateful to her for the innumerable sacrifices she has made for my sake. I appreciate the noble qualities in my mother and I admire her for what she is. She has inculcated many of her noble qualities in me by her good example. Naturally I am proud of her; I am proud of being the son of a wonderful mother.


When I celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary I have the same sentiments of gratitude, appreciation, admiration and pride. I am grateful to Mother Mary because she is a role model for me. I appreciate her noble qualities of altruism, sensitivity, proactiveness, courage and trust. Jesus at the foot of the cross offered Mother Mary as the mother of mankind and Mother Mary is my mother too.


On her birthday what gift can I give her and what tribute can I pay her? The greatest gift I can give her is inculcating in me the noble qualities of that wonderful mother. Sensitivity, altruism and proactiveness are very much interrelated. I see the sensitivity and proactiveness Mother Mary in her readiness to serve her aunt, when she came to know that she was pregnant in her advanced age. Mary ran to her and remained with her as long as Elisabeth needed her service. I see her sensitivity and proactiveness when she intervened at the marriage of Cana and asked her son, Jesus to intervene to save the host family from humiliation when wine ran out of supply. Sensitivity is expressed when I respond positively to a person who is in need of help, service, support or encouragement. Sensitivity is expressed when I respect the dignity and rights of a person.


I understand that sensitivity is the most important indicator of a spiritual person as depicted in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable of Good Samaritan is a severe indictment of the priest and the Levite who were indifferent to the person who was attacked and wounded by the robbers. The Samaritan whom the Jewish religious leaders considered an outcast came forward to help the man who was in need. According to Jesus the Samaritan is an authentic spiritual person and not the priest and the Levite. The rich man in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus was punished because he was insensitive to Lazarus. According to Jesus on the day of the Last Judgment I will be judged on the basis of my sensitivity to my brethren who is need and not on the basis of the rituals and religious practices I perform routinely every day.  In short sensitivity is the sign of a disciple of Christ and Mary is a role model for me in sensitivity and proactive approach.


For me Mother Mary is a role model of extraordinary courage. She had the courage to accept the invitation from the angel of the Lord to be an unwed mother. When she said “Yes” to the annunciation she was taking the risk of becoming an unwed mother. If Joseph had given her up she would have been stoned to death. She expressed her courage when she stood at the foot of the cross when all the disciples of Jesus had run away in fear. I need courage to stand for truth and justice and question injustice. I need courage to protest against discrimination, oppression, exploitation and violation of human rights. In such situations Mary stands before me as bold woman inspiring and encouraging me. For me she is not a passive and subservient woman who is ready to suffer any humiliation under the pretext of obedience.


Finally Mother Mary is a role model for me of unshakable trust in the providence of God. Mary’s courage and boldness emanated from her Trust in God. She reminds me the statement of St. Paul, “If God is with me who can be against me”. In times of crisis, disappointment, rejection, humiliation, opposition Mother Mary gently tells me “Don’t be afraid, God is with you; trust in Him and he will guide you and inspire you to convert the crisis into opportunity.”


I salute Mother Mary on her birthday for being a role model, inspirer and source of strength for me in my journey as a radical disciple of Jesus.

 

Fr. Jacob Peenikaprambil CMI

 


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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