Wisdom 9.13 – 18. Psalm: 90. Philemon 9b – 10, 12 – 17. Luke 14: 25 – 33.
Many of the saints discovered their true freedom in the practice of voluntary poverty. Francis
of Assisi comes to mind as the example par excellence. By renouncing all earthly possessions
he discovered how much he possessed and shared with all of God’s creatures. All the teaching
of Jesus is marked by this same spirit of freedom. Like prayer, voluntary poverty is a gift to
be savoured and treasured.
One of the two parables in today’s gospel, found only in Luke, might provide the basis for a
homily. Building a tower is not a useless exercise in vanity. It had a practical use in the
vineyard. A modern parallel might be a grain silo or shed. It is ironic that Luke and Jesus pick
an example of progressive investment in farming to illustrate a lesson on detachment from
property. Obviously, they approve of the venture as it shows where half measures will not do.
Half-hearted Christianity is not a profitable affair either.
The ways of God are mysterious, and our inability to understand them is stressed in Today’s
reading from the book of Wisdom, and were we seriously to consider the message of the other
two readings we should perhaps find ourselves asking the question, why should St Paul,
having devoted most of his life to the spread of the gospel of Christ, end up a prisoner in
chains, with death by violence to follow. Or indeed, why should it be, as stated in the gospel
reading, that in order to be a disciple of his Christ says we should carry a cross. Again and
again, on our journey through life, we come up against the mystery of suffering, the mystery
of the path of the cross which Christ calls us to tread.
One of the saints who suffered all her days, and despite this led a most active life, never
allowing herself to be overcome by her troubles, was St Teresa of Avila, foundress of the
Discalced Carmelite Sisters. She was an extraordinary person, uniting sublime and mystical
holiness with practical good sense and humour. When she heard that her close associate, St
John of the Cross, was imprisoned, and being punished as a renegade from the Carmelite
Order, she wrote, “God has a terrible way of treating his friends, and in truth he does them no
wrong, since that was the way he treated his own Son, Jesus Christ.” If Christ then, the all-
holy Son of God, submitted to suffering and death, then we his servants cannot expect to be
treated any differently from our Master. And this he states for us quite categorically. “Anyone
who does not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
We should not picture God as being one who takes an unholy delight in seeing his children
suffer. If no earthly father worthy of the name would adopt such an attitude, then how much
more so our heavenly Father, who sent his Son to show his love for us, to the extent of
sacrificing himself for us. This raises the question, why did Christ, in compliance with the
Father’s will, have to suffer? Indeed, why should any of us have to suffer? We can approach
the problem differently by saying that all sufferings, especially those associated with death,
are concrete evidence of the mystery of evil, our tendency to upset God’s purpose, in other
words to commit sin. At the end of the creation story in Genesis (1:31), we are told that “God
saw all he had made and indeed it was good.” We can therefore say that everything is truly
good in so far as it serves God’s purpose. It is blindingly obvious that, both physically and
morally, the world is not all good. The culprit is sin, which is not only the root of all evil, but
whose very existence is now denied by so many.
Nowhere do the gospels suggest that Jesus wanted suffering for its own sake. His prayer in
Gethsemane was, “Father if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me” (Mt 26:39). But the
example of Jesus, as well as that of his sinless mother, shows us that it is impossible, even for
just and virtuous people, to avoid suffering and the effects of sin in the world. When Paul
begged God to cure him of his ailments the answer he got was, “My grace is all you need.” (2
Cor 12:9f). Later he would write: “I gladly to suffer for you, and in my body do what I can to
make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Col
People often get confused with this statement, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate
father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be
my disciple.” How can our sweet Jesus, who is an embodiment of all love, ask us to hate any
one? He remembered His Holy Mother even when He was hanging on the cross in
excruciating pain. He ensured that His mother had someone to take care for Her before He
breathed His last. Then what does He mean by these words?
Our Lord Jesus is asking us to prioritise God’s work more than father and mother, wife and
children, brothers and sisters. In the event of them stopping us from following our Lord Jesus,
we should still follow our Lord Jesus, and love them too. For example, St. Francis of Assisi
had to go against the will of his earthly father to follow His Heavenly Father. His earthly
father wanted him to be an earthly soldier and His heavenly Father a God’s soldier (friar). He
chose the profession allocated by His Heavenly Father only. He had to go against the will of
his earthly father to comply with the will of His Heavenly Father.
Can we look further on what our Lord intends to teach us using the next two parables? Our
Lord Jesus Christ summarises His teachings of the two parables as, “So therefore, none of
you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” Does it mean that we
should not possess anything in this world?
In the Holy Bible, we find that all the individuals whom our God appreciates are not poor.
God says about David, “A man after my own heart”. God testifies about Job as “Is there
anyone as good as Job?” Our Lord Jesus testifies about Nathaniel as, “Here truly is an
Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” In fact, these people were wealthier than many other
people of their time.
So our Lord Jesus is not asking us to give up all that we possess. Then what are we to give up,
when we need to give up all possessions? We need to give up all that is hindering us from
following our Lord Jesus. But how much does it cost us to follow our Lord Jesus Christ? As
soon as we say “I have decided to follow Jesus”, does everything become easy? The true
scenario is we find lots of hardships. The devil tries to keep us away from following God. We
wonder sometimes the more we try to walk with God, the more hardships we encounter. That
is the work of the devil to keep us away from following our Lord Jesus. For example, Satan
knew that the Apostle Peter was going to take the public office of shepherding our Lord’s
lambs. So before the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, he tried to bring down the faith of Apostle
Peter. Our Lord Jesus says in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded
permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail”.
At the start of any good mission, Satan tries to put in more effort to keep us from doing
something good. He does not want us to follow our Lord Jesus and reach Heaven. He knows
that our Almighty Father has kept a place ready for us in Heaven. So he tries his best to keep
us from reaching it. But let us march forward like our Lord Jesus with the cross. When we
follow our Lord Jesus and misfortune occurs, let us recall the words of our Lord Jesus: “Satan
has demanded permission to sift you like wheat”. So this is all a setup from Satan. But our
Lord Jesus Christ will give us victory. Our Almighty Father has the name, “The God who
sees”. He sees all our tears and He remembers our wanderings. All our tears He has stored in
a flask and all our wanderings He has recorded in His book. Why? So that He blesses with joy
One of the main ways Satan tries to work against us is by making our own family and friends
oppose us in our sincere steps to follow our Lord Jesus. They are our well-wishers, but they
will not be able to understand if we are taking new steps to walk with God closely. They may
feel it is unwanted and will mock us. That’s ok. Our Lord Jesus insists that we follow Him in
these scenarios also in today’s Gospel reading. Here we need to ignore their mocks and keep
proceeding forward. When our Lord Jesus was carrying the cross, people pelted stones on
Him, spat on Him, mocked Him. The soldiers had to keep people away from our Lord Jesus
so that they were not able to harm Him and increase His pain. The same thing applies to us
too. When we are carrying the cross of our Lord Jesus faithfully, the world is not going to
clap hands and cheer us. They place only a crown of thorns on us to put us to shame. But our
Lord Jesus Christ will replace the crown of thorns with the crown of glory.
When we work for our Lord Jesus, our Lord has warned us that we may be persecuted
because we are working for him. In John 16:16: “..They will put you out of the synagogue; in
fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to
God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you
this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” In
places where Christians are minorities, we hear about these kinds of persecutions. Non-
Christians feel that by persecuting Christians, they serve their God.
Our Catholic missionaries sacrifice family life and live only for Our Lord Jesus. Their life is a
beautiful living testimony for our Lord Jesus. Can there be any other testimony more
beautiful than this?
A major cost we need to pay is fighting against our self-centredness. Fighting against our self-
centred nature is more difficult than fighting against the world. Even if we decide to follow
our Lord Jesus Christ at any cost, our self-centred nature will tend to hinder us. We see this
exact happening in the life of the Apostle Peter. The Apostle Peter pledged that he would
even die for our Lord Jesus Christ and would never leave Him. On the same day, he swore
thrice that he did not know our Lord Jesus Christ, just because he may have had to suffer for
Him. This happens to all of us. We do want to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, but then when it
becomes challenging we stumble and fall back. But our Lord Jesus Christ is our loving
Father. He understands our human weakness. He is not surprised by our faults. He always
embraces us. The Apostle Peter wept bitterly for his fault but then emerged victoriously to
shepherd Our Lord’s lambs. Hence let us not continuously weep for our own faults but be
ambitious in following Our Lord Jesus just like the Apostle Peter.
Similar to the training we receive for any job, Our Lord Jesus also trains us to adhere to His
teaching. We know that we grow in times of challenges. The challenge would have been
placed by Our Lord Jesus in order to groom us. For example, the Apostle Paul says, “To keep
me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given
to me a thorn in my flesh…..”. So the thorn was given to St.Paul to keep him from being
conceited. All of us will have some kind of thorns. God also would have given us the grace to
bear it, just as He had promised Apostle Paul.
Whatever may be the cost, let us take up our cross and follow Christ!!