Wednesday, November 5 ~ Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: 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, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
Meditation: What does the parable of the tower builder and a ruler on a war campaign have in common? Both risk serious loss if they don’t carefully plan ahead. In a shame and honor culture people want to avoid at all costs being mocked by their community for failing to complete a task they began in earnest. This double parable echoes the instruction of Proverbs: “By wisdom a house is built” and “by wise guidance you can wage a war” to ensure victory (Proverbs 24:3-6). Every landowner who could afford it walled in his orchard as a protection from intruders who might steal or harm his produce. A tower was usually built in a corner of the wall and a guard posted especially during harvest time when thieves would likely try to make off with the goods. Starting a building-project, and leaving it unfinished because of poor planning would invite the scorn of the whole village. Likewise a king who decided to wage a war against an opponent who was much stronger, would be considered foolish if he did not come up with a plan that had a decent chance of success. Jesus tells his would-be disciples that they, too, must count the cost if they want to succeed as his disciples. Jesus assures success for those willing to pay the price. All it cost is everything! What does Jesus have to offer that’s worth giving up everything else? More than we can imagine! Jesus offers the gift of abundant life and everlasting peace and happiness with God.
Prayer: Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Jesus used strong language to make clear that nothing should take precedence or first place in our lives over God. Jesus knew that the way of the cross was the Father’s way to glory and victory over sin and death. He counted the cost and said “yes” to his Father’s will. We, too, must “count the cost” and be ready to follow Jesus in the way of the cross if we want to share in his glory and victory. What is the “way of the cross” for you and for me? When my will crosses with God’s will, then his will must be done. The way of the cross involves sacrifice, the sacrifice of laying down my life each and every day for Jesus’ sake. What makes such sacrifice possible and “sweet” for us is the love of God poured out for us in the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). We can never out give God. He always gives us more than we can expect or imagine. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love of God? If not, what crust has built up around your heart that you need to get rid of?