23rd Sunday in Ordinary time, 4 Sep 2016

From the Dean’s Desk

If an event or an occasion is worthy of our involvement, then we will give it all that we have in order to make it successful.  Take for example a person who is a member of a particular sports team. If they truly respect and cherish their position on that team, they will do all in their power to ensure not only that they will continue to be a part of the team, but that the team as a whole will excel in its particular sport because of their input. It means that the players will have to make certain choices, have certain priorities and live a particular type of life for the remainder of their stay as a team member.  Their priorities, decisions and choices will be built around a training schedule and a playing roster that may see them having to say no to certain things as long as they play for that side. That is the price that they pay for inclusion into the sporting side. 

If we take this analogy and place it within the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel [Luke 14:25-33], we may gain an appreciation of what he is asking of us.  Hearing Jesus say that for us to be his followers we need to hate those who are closest to us in life and that we need to take up our cross, seems quite harsh. He doesn’t come across as a very sound recruiting officer with those demands. But what is he asking of us here?  When Jesus asks us to hate our nearest and dearest, he does not mean for us to take this invitation literally. He means that no love in life – even the strong love between kin – can compare with the love we must bear him.  He is challenging us to realise that if we decide to take up his call to follow him then we need to be aware of the demands and ask ourselves if we have the power, the intent, the resilience to take up that challenge. This is highlighted by the two examples that Jesus then presents us in today’s Gospel: that of a man who wishes to build a tower on his property and of a king who wishes to go to war with a more powerful nation.  Both need to sit down and consider whether they have the capacity and ability to not only take on the task but to see it through to the end.

The same holds with regard to our Christian vocation.  Do we have the strength of character to make the choices and decisions to live the Christian lifestyle in our world?  Most of us have been born into a Christian family and as such have not had to consider the demands that this makes on us.  We may have taken it all for granted: we have had the example of parents and family who were regular to their religious commitments, comprising the regular attendance at Mass; having a fairly strong prayer life; of being respectful of people and so on.  But being a Christian may mean for us to make decisions and choices that can be contrary to the world and society in which we live.  It may mean for us to not simply take the general mentality of the society in which we live, which is based more on opinion polls that tried and tested traditions, but to go against the current, as Pope Francis urges us and live with decisions that are pro-life and gospel based.  Making choices that place us in opposition to others because we are Christian is what is meant by taking up our cross and following Jesus.  Do I have the courage and the fortitude to not only make such choices and decisions, but also to live by them, and as such truly be Jesus’ presence in our world?

Fr Robert Bossini
Dean and Parish Priest