September 8, 2019 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus challenges us on what we set our life’s priority. He wants each of us, to ask oneself: who is most important and what is the most essential in my life? Is it God or persons other than God and things? This question is extremely important since upon its answer lies our eternal salvation or damnation. In the gospel, Jesus says “if anyone does not prefer me to relations or even hate one’s own life for my sake, renounce possessions and take up one’s cross to follow me, he or she cannot be my disciples.

Dearest sisters and brothers, it is important that Jesus’ statement today helps us once again to re-evaluate our priorities in life.  We live in a world where many values, especially mundane ones, are competing for our loyalty.  If one is not careful, he or she will spend his or her entire life being enslaved to them—from the desires of the body, to quest for honor and prestige, to accumulation of wealth, and so forth.

St. John of the Cross reminds us that “the soul that remains with her affections attached to things, however small, will never arrive at Divine union; for it signifies little whether the bird be tied by a slight thread or a thick one:  since, however slight it may be, provided she does not break it, she remains always bound, and unable to fly”.

Today, Christ demands absolute loyalty to God from us.  St. Paul in the second reading did exactly that.  He was a prisoner for Christ.  For him, Christ was all in all that he considered it an honor to be a prisoner for him.  St. Paul’s example challenges us on how ready we are to sacrifice all for God?  To what extent are we ready to take inconveniences for our faith?  Today, if we cannot even come to Mass on time or sacrifice even 30 mins a day to prayer, how can we sacrifice something more for God?  If attending daily Sunday Mass is asking too much or standing up for truth is hard, can we live faithfully to Christ’s demand?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called, Cost of Discipleship.  There he states, “spiritual life is not that which shuns suffering and pain and keeps clear of destruction, but the one that endures death and is sustained by it”.  Like Solomon in the first reading, may we ask God to give us wisdom to choose Him above other values.  Amen!

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