Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute




Alleluia, Alleluia.

Let your face shine upon your servant;

and teach me your laws.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 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, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

The Gospel of the Lord



The Liturgy of the Word begins with a section from the Book of Wisdom:

Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the Lord intends?

In recognizing his human deficiency, King Solomon in prayerful response to God’s generous offer to grant the king whatever he wanted, asked God to give him:

Lev Shomea, a listening heart!

Under the influence of God’s Spirit of Wisdom, King Solomon offered the request that should be on the lips of all the faithful.  Often on Friday evenings, as we begin the retreat weekend, I remind the retreatants that silence is the absolute companion of a retreat because one wants to hear above all the voice of God.   All those who desire to hear the voice of God need Lev Shomea, a listening heart!

It is with a listening heart that we approach the words of Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel:

… anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple!

It is in this spiritual mode that we pray from the heart that we may come to know the mind and will of God. The challenge to our hearing is the bold, starkness of Jesus’ call and implied cost of discipleship.  Any other attachment more dear to us than Jesus, be it possessions or people, are obstacles and hindrances to loving God above all things and loving our neighbor as Jesus loves us!

This demand of Jesus appears to be beyond human capacity:

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.

Saint Luke’s Gospel has preserved the original, strong expression of Jesus.  The word hate in the original Greek is misein.  Biblical scholars explain the use of misein as being the opposite of the Greek word, agape, meaning self-sacrificing love.  The word, misein implies a strong disconnection, detachment from anything or anyone who would get between Jesus and His disciple.

If one gets to the point of cherishing and clinging to others and things more than they cling to Jesus, then that one is not a disciple but a mere admirer of Jesus.  To cherish and cling to Jesus above all else is to love Jesus with agape love, love that sacrifices all else for Him alone!  This level of self-sacrifice can only be understood and embraced in the context and reality of the self-sacrificing love that Jesus demonstrates for us on a daily basis.  Jesus did not cling to anything above us; Jesus did not cherish even His life more than us!

As the mother of Jesus stood at the foot of the cross, Jesus even gave her up so that He could cling only to His Father!



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com


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