Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 Luke 14:25-33

“Anyone who does not carry his cross …”

Jesus had one great goal in life, to carry out the task his Father had given him, that is to proclaim the reign of God’s abiding and loving presence in the lives of all people. To that purpose he single-mindedly gave his whole life. The Gospel of Luke presents Jesus resolutely heading for Jerusalem where he would be able to reach great crowds with this ‘good news’. According to today’s account, already “great crowds accompanied him along the way”. Jesus knew what awaited him at the end of that journey - suffering, rejection and death. Yet he willingly faced all of that, such was his whole-hearted commitment to the will of his Father. For him the way of love was also the way of the cross.

And he tells the crowds that he expects nothing less from those who would be his disciples. He talks about the cost of discipleship. To follow the way of Our Lord is no easy-going, comfort-bringing, risk-avoiding way of life. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a shelter from the challenges of a purposeful existence. Rather the opposite. Disciples of Jesus must be ready, if needs be, to sacrifice the dearest things in life, for the call of discipleship is demanding. In some circumstances it could mean persecution and even death - as is happening in our own day in various parts of the world.

So Jesus invites each one of us to “sit down and work out the cost” and to “sit down and consider” what is really involved in following Him who gave his life for us. It is in this context that we can understand what he means by speaking of “hating” our parents and children – it is a Semitic way of telling us to put things into perspective, to get our priorities right. It is another way of saying that the demands of the kingdom values of truth, justice, peace and love should have priority in our lives. Quite simply, Jesus is asking for genuine commitment to accepting the reign of God in our lives.