The 31st Wednesday in Ordinary Time
(Romans 13: 8-10, Luke 14: 25-33)
“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” (Lk. 14:26). We have heard these words countless times. Many of us shrug our shoulders when we hear them and shake our heads because they sound so radical and extreme. As I was preparing this homily, I allowed my mind to go into free-fall mode. Carried on the wings of the Spirit, I read a verse taken from Ecclesiastes: “That which has been, will be done again; there is no new thing under the sun” (Qoh. 1:9). What if Jesus is not saying something shockingly new, after all. “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it” (Jn. 12:49).
The Son heard the Father speak to Abram. “Leave the land where you were born, abandon your family and relatives, and depart from your father’s house, then set out for the land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Once we respond to the call, there should be no turning back. “I run toward the goal so I can win the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Whatever effort we expend in the process is a response to the call of love. This is beautifully illustrated by the psalmist. “Listen, daughter, and take to heart what I have to say: Forget your people and your father’s house. The king greatly desires your beauty; surrender to his embrace and love him wholeheartedly” (Ps. 45:10-11). God’s super-abundant love lavished upon us needs to be freely received. He who gave us his all, asks us to give him our all. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back to assess the things left behind is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). Looking back can only lead to drawing back. Anytime we turn our gaze from the prize of our upward calling we lose our way.
We should not let the world define us. We have been called to make the journey of faith together, side by side under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to make room for silence if we wish to foster mutual listening and a desire for communion in the Spirit among us. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by worldly concerns we run the risk of becoming deaf to the voice of the Good Shepherd who calls us by name (CF. Jn. 10:27). “Arise, my love, my fair one, come away with me” (Song 2:10). Let us not hesitate to respond to his loving call. Only by leaving all and responding to his call can we gain the crown of eternal life in the Kingdom of our one and only Father (CF. Mat.23:9).
The goal of our life is to be with God forever.
We should not fix our desires on
health or sickness,
wealth or poverty,
success or failure,
a long life or a short one.
(Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House in Minnesota)