Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Wednesday – Thirty-first Week – OT2
Readings: Phi 2:12-18; Lk 14:25-33.
Reading 1 (Phil 2:12-18):
My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.
Gospel (Lk 14:25-33):
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, OP.
I. THEME: One must carefully think before follows Christ.
Many of the faithful want to catch fish with both hands, they want to have both worldly pleasures and the heavenly kingdom. There is a story about a little girl who was asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” She was hesitated for a while. When was asked the second time, she said, “I want to be both the cashier and the nun!” Is there a way that people can compromise between these two things? Jesus straightforwardly declared: “You can’t serve both God and mammons (Mt 6:24).
Today readings give us some main reasons why people must carefully think and calculate before they decide to follow Christ. In the first reading, St. Paul gave the Philippians some practical advises which were drawn from the yesterday’s hymn. When they decided to follow Christ, they must accept Christ’s way to glory which is his absolute obedience to God, his Father. In the Gospel, Jesus straightforwardly put out three conditions for those who want to follow him: they must give up their parents, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even their own life and carry their own cross. People must carefully think before making their decision so that they shall not give up half-way through; if they do, they shall lose happiness both in this life and the life to come.
1/ Reading I: “Do everything without grumbling or questioning.”
1.1/ Volunteering to obey God: Like Christ who completely obeyed his Father because he knew that his obedience shall complete God’s plan of salvation, St. Paul also wanted the Phillippians to have the same obedience. The obedience which is based on understanding shall help the faithful to earn their salvation, not by any other reason. This is the reason why he advised them, “So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
According to Pauline theology of the body, all the faithful are members of Christ’s body. Since Christ is the head, all members are guided with knowlege and permeated by love which he received from God. This is why St. Paul said to the Philippians, “For God is the one who, for His good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” Therefore, after understood God’s mystery of salvation, the faithful should imitate Christ, obey and do everything according to God’s plan of salvation, don’t complain or doubt anything about His plan.
1.2/ Courageously denying the worldly way of life: St. Paul knew that he couldn’t live with the Philippians all the time to protect them from worldly temptations, so he tried to teach them in a way that it shall strengthen their faith. He taught them to do three things:
(1) To set good examples among the world: If the faithful let Christ to be the center of their life and act according to his guidance, they shall become pure, blameless and perfect in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Such a life in the world shall help them to shine as light in the world and to lead others to God.
(2) To live according to a puspose: St. Paul taught his faithful to clearly know what they live this life for. The reason why he tirelessly worked to preach the Gospel for them is also for that purpose which is for the salvation of all souls.
(3) To accept sacrifices and sufferings: Because of salvation, he and them are ready to accept all sacrifices and sufferings for the Gospel to extend to all places. He shared his thoughts with the Philippians: “Even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.”
2/ Gospel: Christ’s disciples must pay a dearly price to follow him.
According to Luke’s report, Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem. Many people were hoping that Jesus shall use his mighty power to fight against the Roman empire and to recover Israel’s kingdom, so they followed to support him. Jesus knew what they were thinking, he let them know what shall happen for him in Jerusalem and gave them three conditions for those who want to follow him.
2.1/ Three conditions to follow Jesus: One can say that these three conditions cover all what people may possess.
(1) Must give up their relatives: Jesus said to them, “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” The Greek’s verb is used here is “miséo” means to hate, to despise, not to concern with or to pay attention to. Matthews was more careful when using the verb than Luke, Jesus stated: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). It is for sure that Jesus didn’t teach people to hate their relatives as hating their enemies, but also to love them as ourselves. Luke used to pay a special attention to love because he is a nurse and his duty is to lovely care for patients. Here, Luke probably understood Jesus’ meaning as in Matthews that Christ’s disciples must not value their relatives more than God and when they must choose between God and their relatives, they must choose God.
(2) Must give up their own life: As Christ sacrificed his body for human beings, Christ’s disciples were also demanded to sacrifice themselves for God and others.
(3) Must carry their cross: Jesus continued to say to them, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The cross he mentioned here, not necessary means the cross which Jesus was died on, but all other sufferings such as: despite, misunderstanding, persecution, etc. which a disciple must endure in preaching the Gospel.
2.2/ Two illustrated examples: To illustrate the necessary of the careful thinking before one decides to be his disciple, Jesus gave them two concrete examples.
(1) Building a towel: Money is the deciding factor for all building projects; people must have enough or extra money when the project is started. If a project started and money is run out, the building company shall stop the project. People shall look at the project and say, “This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.”
(2) Fighting the enemy: Equal force is the deciding factor in fighting. Before fighting, a military leader must send out a spy to observe his opponent’s forces to evaluate and to compare with his forces. If he thinks that he might have a chance of winning, he shall fight; if not, he must ask for help or make overtures of reconciliation.
Similarly, Jesus requires those who want to follow him to carefully think of his three conditions and to evaluate their power to see if they can meet them. If they can’t meet them, they shouldn’t follow him.
III. APPLICATIONS IN LIFE:
– We must avoid the “catching fish with two hands” attitude, both to follow God and to enjoy all what the world offers.
– We must carefully think over three conditions which Jesus requests us to have and evaluate ourselves to see if we can meet them. When we made the decision, we should follow him until the end.