23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 8 September 2019 – by Fr. Terrie Pinto MSFS

By | September 6, 2019

Let me begin with a quote from Kahlin Gibran:
“When I give my possessions, I give nothing. But when I give myself. I give everything”
The three readings of today’s liturgy summarizes this Truth. Commitment and Self-Sacrifice. On this twenty third Sunday of ordinary time,
the church celebrates the spirit of commitment and self-sacrifice of Christ. The spirit of self-sacrifice motivates one
do the unimaginable. It was this spirit that made Jesus give up
everything, including his own life for our sake. So, through this same spirit, we can become
true his Disciples of Christ. Today’s first reading draws our attention
to the depth of the wisdom of God. He alone knows his intentions for humanity. However, this intention has been fully revealed
in Christ who willingly sacrificed himself in order to save us. So, it is the spirit of wisdom that helps
us to penetrate into the mystery of God’s intention revealed in Christ. In this way, this mystery becomes spirit and
life for us. In the second reading, Paul sent back Onesimus
to Philemon in the spirit of sacrifice. Although Paul needed Onesimus and had every
right to retain him, he allowed him to return to his former master Philemon who equally
needed him. Philemon also had to sacrifice something. He has to drop all his misgiving against Onesimus. So, he was admonished to receive Onesimus
as a brother rather than as a slave. Hence, Paul teaches us that we can equally
sacrifice our own comfort in order to restore that of others. Also, we must be ready to make some sacrifices
in order to repair and restore relationships. There is nothing we cannot sacrifice for the
sake of God and humanity. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to imbibe
his spirit of commitment and sacrifice in order to be true His true disciples. He says: “If any man comes to me without
hating his father, mother, wife…and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple.” What does Christ mean by “hating”? He simply teaches and call us to us to learn
to make sacrifice, and to be committed to our missions and calls. • If any man comes to me without hating
. . . he cannot be my disciple: Are we convinced that we must get to the point of separating
ourselves from all that ties our hearts: affection received and given, life itself, in order
to follow Jesus? • Anyone who does not carry his cross and
come after me cannot be my disciple: Do I possess the logic of the cross, that is, the
logic of love freely given? • The means to fulfil this: does my capability
to think inform my life of faith or is it just an interior impulse that dissolves with
time and slips by the events of my daily life? • To avoid having onlookers make fun of
something started: does the reward of someone who started to follow the Lord and then did
not have the human resources to go on, that is, derision for inability, apply to me? • None of you can be my disciple unless
he gives up all his possessions: am I convinced that the key to discipleship is the poverty
of non-possession and the beatitude of belonging? Christ is not literarily calling us to hate
the members of our family in order to be his disciples. He loved and obeyed his own parents. Also, His mother Mary was one of His first
and best disciples. So, we too must love members of our family. He is not in any way preaching the gospel
of hatred. Rather, he wants us to be more committed to
his ministry. He wants us to be willing to sacrifice our
own comfort whenever duty calls. Maximilian Kolbe did this in the Auschwitz
concentration camp in 1941 by offering his life for a fellow prisoner, so that he might
live to take care of his family. Christ wants us to imbibe Paul’s spirit
of sacrifice and commitment. To be Christ’s disciple, means being ready
to make sacrifices. Carrying our cross and following Christ also
means subduing our own will in order to do His Will. That is, being ready to give up anything. Without commitment and sacrifice, we remain
attached to our will, and so, cannot be true Disciples of Christ. Without it, we cannot see the needs of others. Finally, commitment and sacrifice help us
to give up anything in order to gain all. It disposes us to be better Disciples of Christ. It helps us to be better husbands, wives,
parents, and children. It helps us to be better leaders and even
servants. In the spirit of commitment and sacrifice,
the wisdom of God becomes fully alive and active in us. It also helps us deepen our trust in God’s
divine providence and protection. Hence, we can confidently proclaim: “O Lord
you have been my refuge from one generation to the next”. God Loves You.!!!

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