Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wis 9:13-18b | Phmn 9-10, 12-17 | Ps 119:135 | Lk 14:25-33
Through this week's readings, we are asked to look at what the greatest obstacles are in our relationship with God. What are the things, or more importantly, the people, who tear us away from loving God with our whole heart and being? Hopefully for most of us, no one or nothing comes to mind. Jesus tells us that we have to have strength to love Him completely and everything else will fall into place. But where do we get this strength? We know from childhood this strength is given to us from family, friends and people we meet on our journey. These people become our kin, not just companions. These kin know us completely and they were designed to be the people we go to for peace, harmony and love. Sadly, these relationships interfere with our total devotion to God. We're allowed to believe that wealth, possessions, fame and recognition for what we have done are important. But as we travel along with our kin we are shown that these are not important. Our role here on earth is to love and serve each other and build upon the teachings of our cornerstone. Keeping God as our # 1, how could we NOT succeed?
Our first reading is taken from the book of Wisdom. It’s through this reading we are shown that all knowledge on its own does have its limitations. We are aware from a young age that we do need wisdom to understand the ways of God. This wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at Confirmation. The gifts we receive that day help to keep us on the straight and narrow until we are called home.
The psalm begins looking at God in his wisdom and ever presence. We see our life as fleeting, and as we grow older, we grow weaker in our person. So, who do we turn to in our weakness? The one person who in His strength and love will carry us to himself when we are called home. This idea gives us a purpose and a reason to go on and search for that wisdom and weather life’s ups and downs. Our question of “Why God” is answered through faith, and the feeling of not being worthy is overshadowed by the hope of eternity.
In the second reading, we learn that devotion is an important characteristic of being of a true disciple. A devoted disciple puts Jesus first and everything else is second. We are told that at this time Paul is in prison for preaching about Jesus. He gives us Onesimus, one who was like a son to him, and he asks that he be welcomed as Paul was welcomed. We are told many times that Onesimus was a slave, so he was considered to be less important than the people Paul was speaking to. But Paul time and time again asks us to accept Onesimus as an equal. Even though our ideas differ, faith should bring us together.
This gospel is challenging and as well as shocking. Even though we see the word hate in the gospel of John, it wasn’t used in the same context as we see here in Luke. Jesus tells us to “hate.” This is not the peaceful, hopeful Jesus we are used to. It is necessary to realize that the context of this word is not the same as we are used to today. So, hating one’s mom and dad only means that parents and kin should be placed second to God. Everything that is done should be done for the glory of God and not our earthly kin. We have to think and trust our hearts. All our glory and devotion should be for God first and those who are with us on this journey should realize the same. Mary did so many times!
Sr. Miriam Catherine Nevins, OP