THE CROSS AS THE WAY TO SALVATION!
Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Wis 9.13-18b; Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17 (R.v.1); Phil 9b-10, 12-17; Lk 14.25-33
THE CROSS AS THE WAY TO SALVATION!
The ways of God are mysterious, and our inability to understand them is stressed in the First Reading from the book of Wisdom. Moreover, in considering the message of the other two readings, we might be tempted to ask why St Paul should end up a prisoner and with a violent death after having devoted most of his life to the spread of the Gospel of Christ. Or indeed, why should it be, as stated in the gospel reading, that in order to be a disciple of His, Christ says we should carry a cross.
Again and again, on our journey through life, we come up against the mystery of suffering, the mystery of the path of the cross which Christ calls us to tread.
There are a number of occasions in the gospels when the Son of God seems to speak with what might appear to be rash exaggeration, an unwarranted intemperance of expression. Today’s gospel contains an example of such hyperbole: “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.”
Is not love the greatest of the Commandments? Did not the Lord Himself enjoin charity as the perfect fulfilment of the moral Law? Are we really required to cultivate hatred of our nearest and dearest, in order to be a disciple?
There never was, and never will be, any convenient equality between His Mind and ours. He is infinite wisdom, knowledge unlimited, power unbounded. We are none of that. Little wonder then the Book of Isaiah says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In today’s gospel, Our Lord teaches us that His claims on us are always greater, more demanding, more far-reaching than any blood-ties could produce. He teaches us that in our relationship with Jesus, our human family ties, our friends and close relatives must always take the second place. Hard?
Undoubtedly, the gift of our families is a great blessing. It is even a confirmation of man as a ‘pro-creator’ in fulfilment of God’s mandate at creation. It is also a source of moral and spiritual stability. It is the context in which children should first learn to love and worship God. The place where spouses should help each other to grow in holiness. All these true.
However, Our Lord reveals and encapsulates an unchanging truth that we dare not ignore or water-down: as disciples of the Son of God, He is our sovereign Lord and Master. He takes priority. He comes first. His claims are absolute. The Gospel is uncompromising, and true. The Cross is non-negotiable.
As Catholics, whether married or single, clerical or lay, we all have the same over-riding, over-arching priority: Jesus the Lord. Jesus Christ comes first. Hence, he says, “seek first His kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well” (Luke 12:31).
Today, in the life of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, we see a testimony of what it means to have everything added for us as well. She suffered in life for the sake of the poor but today, she enjoys as one of the rich in the kingdom of God.
May God lead our hearts to seek him above all things, and thus gain life in the end. Amen.
Happy Sunday dear. Peace be with you.