Father Brian Konopa’s Homily 2019-09-07 the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

By | September 10, 2019

– In today’s Gospel we hear
about the cost of discipleship that we must hate our families, carry our crosses, and renounce
all our earthly possessions. And many of us are puzzled to
hear Jesus use the term “hate” when we know that He
preached the Gospel of love. “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.” But perhaps there are
some teenagers who’d say, “I’m already at that stage. “I can’t stand my siblings, and
my parents get on my nerves. “I was born to be a Christian.” (congregation laughs) But when this word
is used, remember, it’s in a different era in
the ancient near East time when the word hate
didn’t have the same psychological overtones of just despising
another person. This was actually used
in a Semitic idiom that basically just meant, “I prefer you less,
I love you less.” And so it’s just reiterating
that of all our loves, nothing should have a
priority to Jesus Christ, but certainly we must
be people who love. What I find disconcerting
is the fact that these like stark and
uncompromising words are not just addressed
to a few people, the 12 Apostles, but they’re
addressed to the great crowd who’s following this wise
miracle working rabbi. We are to renounce all
our earthly possessions that we rely upon and choose Him above every person
and possession. So this means everything. I mean, we have
to give ourselves. We have to give all our
relationships, our homes, our educational opportunities, our career choices, our
time, our money, our energy. Everything and everyone
in our lives must take a second seat to Jesus Christ. There is a cost to discipleship. But Jesus says, “It is possible. “We can choose this.” And He gives us these
analogies of a contractor or a king going into
battle to kinda say like, “You really have to do a
gut check and say like, “am I really ready to make
a full-hearted commitment.” I’ll offer another analogy. Compare the cost of
discipleship to the cost of being a disciple of a
high school football coach, a high school football player. You must be at every
practice and game not just when you feel like it. And if you have a job, you have to reschedule
your hours around football. You will likely be initiated
by the upper class men within the first two weeks, at least in yesteryear. You will be alive tackling
dummy for the starters. You must prepare for every
game knowing and suit up for it knowing that you’re
not going to play. You must stay alert on the
sidelines and cheer loudly for your teammates. Your coach is likely from
time-to-time to yell at you in your face and get it all wet. And the coach is likely a
long line to point you out as one of the ways
not to run a play. You will need to eat well, lift weights, learn the place, get a good night’s
rest before the game. You must give 100%. And your family and church
events must also take a second place. Your family will learn
to schedule their lives around football. So when grandma says, “On Friday
night we’re gonna celebrate “grandpa’s birthday,” you will have to say, “Grandma, “you know that on Friday
nights I have games. “I can’t make it.” And they will just
have to understand. Your family will have to pay
for gas to go to the games and the tickets to get inside
including the home stadium to watch their sons
stand on the sidelines and not play. They will also be asked
to sell game day tickets, raffle tickets, work
in session stands. And if you get hurt, your parents will pay
the medical bills. Do you still want
to be a disciple of this high school
football coach? Yeah! (congregation laughs) Okay, we’ll see how it
goes, but you cannot quit until the end of the season. And then you can
decide for next year. Parents know there’s
more to it than it seems. And the Gospel, when Jesus
turns around and He sees the crowds, He knows there’s
more to being a disciple than they realized. It isn’t easy and glorious
despite what it may have seem like to them. Again, what is the cost? Family comes second,
marriage comes second, children comes second,
and you come last. You must renounce your
possessions from having any importance to you, and
you must carry your cross, your life’s responsibilities
as Christ did. Do you still wanna
be a Christian? Will vacation plans be
put on hold to make sure you can attend mass? Or a family is over
for the weekend and you are the grand
host and hostess, will you let them know that
you must excuse yourself to make it to mass? If you’re having
your baby baptized, are you ready to raise
this child in the faith knowing this is a
lifelong process? Are we committed to
reducing the different kinds of poverty in the world
especially the poverty of love and kindness. That’s a lot. Our consolation is that
Jesus isn’t asking anymore than He gave to
His heavenly Father and to each and every one
of us even in this moment, and that He gives us His
Spirit, the Holy Spirit of power and love
to live as He did. He gives us His
wisdom and instruction available to us in our
Bibles, in our catechisms, and He gives us
brothers and sisters who are also disciples to be
our support and inspiration. We are not alone, but we should to kid
ourselves about the cost and the obligations of being
a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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