September 4, 2010


23rd Sunday - C
Luke 14: 25-33

The Cost of Following Jesus

This Gospel passage has an odd beginning, "Great crowds were traveling with Jesus." Even if a middle-school level essay were to begin in this way, any teacher would ask the writer to add the destination of the journey. The essay would be considered confusing and poorly written without poiting out where Jesus and the crowds are going.

Similarly, we can properly understand this Gospel passage only when we take into consideration the destination of the journey the crowds are traveling with Jesus. Since Luke 9:51, Jesus has been on his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the mission that God the Father sent him to do.

St. Luke describes the way Jesus began that journey in these words, "When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." And with that same attitude, Jesus has been on his way for the last five chapters.

Contrary to Jesus' determination, there are people who could not follow him because of their various concerns, including family ties and responsibilities (9: 59-62). These concerns and responsibilities, while legitimate, become obstacles for their following of Jesus.

Besides, in the Hebrew language and culture, "there is no word for loving someone slightly less." Due to that reason, "'to hate' is the opposite of 'to prefer.'" [1]

There, the challenge of following Jesus and the cost of the Kingdom of God. To have the Kingdom is to have won everything. To lose it is to have lost all things.

Therefore, nothing and nobody, including oneself, should become an obstacle on one's journey of following Jesus to the Kingdom of God.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, SDB. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings, Year C. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1991; p. 160.

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