Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 8, 2013
Scriptural Reference: Luke 14:25-33
It is the very last verse of today’s Gospel reading that I would like to reflect on with you today. Scripture gives us so much to think about that I rarely make it to the end of one reading before finding something I want to share. As is the case with anything we read or look at or listen to, we pay attention to something that suddenly jumps out at us.
Jesus says: “anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” How can we possibly live up to this kind of statement, right from Jesus himself?
Throughout the history of the Church, we have had people who attempted to live this way, some who sold all their possessions, gave the money to the poor and lived on practically nothing. St. Anthony the hermit in the deserts of Egypt, St. Francis and his first followers, not even owning their own place to live. But don’t we all know that this literal interpretation of Jesus’ words is highly inspiring but not possible for the majority.
And yet I still think we are all asked to renounce a great deal if we are to be disciples of Jesus – to let go of what we have out of love for others, to care for those in need, to give up some of our dreams due to responsibilities that came our way unexpectedly, to recognize our own limitations and accept that what we would have hoped to accomplish in our lives simply will not happen, to let go of the goals we had for our children, for us as a Church, for the hope we put in the next generation that does not always materialize. So many good Catholic families I know are so hurt by the lifestyle their children have adopted, often with the partial or even total rejection of our faith.
As I can see, the giving up of our will, the letting go of the things that in a sense are taken away from us rather than the possessions we decide to give away, is where the true renouncing is.
When we decide to give something to the poor, when we decide to live a simpler life, when we decide to make some kind of change in life, we feel we are in control … and so the giving up is sincere but not as demanding, not as painful as when we have to adjust to something that, in a sense, has been taken away from us. It could be a job, and investment that crumbles, a serious health issue, a big disappointment in a marriage, the behavior of a child, a scandal in the Church, fewer people practicing our faith.
Remaining faithful, living in peace and hope when so much has gone wrong, that’s the renouncing of what we cling to is the most difficult. May we simply ask for the grace to accept the crosses that come our way.