Today’s Thoughts: Our Gospel today is the conclusion to a major section of Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings about who belongs in the Kingdom or who will be Jesus’ disciples. Just before our Gospel today Jesus tells a parable about wedding feast. The people invited do not come, so the doors were opened to the outcasts, the physically challenged and the poor. When Jesus finishes the story someone at table said that the ones who eat at the heavenly banquet will certainly be blest. What we hear in today Gospel is Jesus’ reply.
It is a challenging reply because Jesus’ very first statement seems to call us to hate the very people we love. We are to “hate” our father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, even our very self or we cannot be a disciple. And if this is not enough if we truly want to be a disciple, we must carry our own crosses. With conditions such as these my questions is “Why be a disciple?”
Jesus then offers us two short parables to finish off the discussion. If you are going to build a tower, you’d better have enough materials to finish or else. If you are going to wage war then you’d better have enough soldiers to win, or else. Luke finishes this chapter with two verses that are not included in today Gospel. Jesus talks about salt losing its flavor and when it does it gets thrown out. He ends by reminding all who have ears better be listening.
Hating those we love and carrying our crosses are not attractive qualities to strive for from my perspective. Does Jesus really say to “hate?” It seems so. “Hating” is the exact Greek word Luke uses. Throughout the Gospels Jesus puts a lot of emphasis on loving and being loved. Next Sunday’s Gospel will relate a great story about family love. So why the focus on “hating” today?
The Kingdom, the Banquet, the discipleship that we are invited to by Jesus is the wisdom that we hear about in our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom. All relationships of love are gifts from God, and they are not meant to make gods out of those whom we love. How are we ever going to build our relationship with Jesus – by loving God above all other relationships and also carrying our crosses. It will not be easy, but God needs to be first.
How are we going to build a tower successfully or be on the victorious side of a battle or war when we feel insufficient? The challenge Jesus puts before us today is to trust in the generosity and mercy of God. The challenge is to not lose our flavor, our purpose, our meaning and to listen, hear and have faith in our relationship with God. Our crosses are many, but Jesus is there to carry them with us. Our family relationships are important and life giving but only when God sits at the center of them. In facing the overwhelming challenges, the struggles, the crosses of life we need to ask ourselves; do we have enough, do enough, and pray enough! Or put another way who is first in our life.
There is a wonderful story from the life of the great Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers that I have always liked. In his autobiography, I Am Third, Sayers tells the story and the reason for this title. When he was at the University of Kanas his track coach Bill Easton had a little sign on his desk that said, I am third. One day Sayers asked his coach what it meant. Coach Easton said, “the Lord is first, my friends are second and I am third.” Sayers decided to make the saying his philosophy of life. When he got to the NFL he had a gold medal made in with the words I Am Third engraved on it. He wears the medal around his neck. Sayers says that “I try to live by the saying on the medal. I don’t always succeed but having the saying around my neck keeps me from straying from it too fay.”
Perhaps Gale Sayers is on to what Jesus is saying in our Gospel today. Who is first in our life? Hopefully it is God!
Have a blessed Sunday everyone.
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...