23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year C Wisdom 9:13-18b, Psalm 90: 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17 Philemon: 9-10, 12-17, Luke 14: 24-33
Are You Ready?
Twenty-years ago, I was privileged to be a part of a small group of volunteers in a summer camp program in Kingston, Jamaica for two weeks. Prior to leaving, I remember feelings of anticipation, but also some trepidation as this would be my first trip outside of the United States and my first ministry immersion experience…what would I encounter? Would I be up to the challenge? In addition to paper resources/articles, there was also an evening of prayer and orientation on culture, history and politics of the country. As the time for the trip drew near, I was aware of the expectations and challenges and felt ready for whatever lay ahead of me.
A year later, I would begin my formal formation for becoming a Dominican Sister. Again there were feelings of both anticipation and some trepidation. During the next six years I would come to a clearer understanding of the meaning of consecrating one’s life to God and service to God’s people. As the time for my final vows drew near, I was aware of the expectations and challenges and felt ready for whatever lay ahead of me.
In all walks of life, we are drawn toward new ventures with a certain sense of “call”. Our “call” requires us to reflect deeply on a desired life-changing goal or commitment be it a marriage, entering into military service, a political career, a specialized field of study, a religious vocation …the list can be endless. Each of these goals or commitments most likely includes feelings of both anticipation and trepidation. A strong preparation program will hold no surprises and help us discern if the path we are on appears to be the right one for us. As the end of our preparatory time draws near, we should be aware of both expectations and challenges and feel ready for whatever lays ahead of us.
In today’s Gospel, the crowds have flocked toward Jesus with a certain sense of “call”. While the Gospel reading itself can be somewhat intimidating, it is helpful to look at its larger picture. Jesus himself can be viewed as the master formation director who wants us to fully understand the nature of what it means to be his disciple. He encourages his audience and us to reflect deeply on the goal of discipleship and its impact on our lives. Jesus gives a strong message that while we can look forward to being his disciple with anticipation, there are clearly expectations and challenges associated with following him. Discipleship is not for the weak-willed, but for those who are courageous enough to put God first and hold the things of life lightly. Just as Jesus accepted his cross, we too must accept the cross of discipleship. While our economy over the past decade may have compelled us to discern between needs and wants—the call of discipleship asks us to extend this principle to our whole self: to let go and let God lead us, not as a one-time event, but as a daily recommitment that fuels our prayer and our service to God’s people in love, peace and justice. As each dawn draws near, Jesus asks us to be aware of both the expectations and challenges of claiming discipleship and feel ready for whatever lays ahead of us. Is this not the most important tonic for our times?
Sister Barbara Ann Sgro, O.P.