Scripture Commentary for 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

take up cross

1st Reading – Wisdom 9: 13-18b

From Word & Worship, Birmingham, p. 465:  It was a popularly held belief that this book was written by Solomon, but scholarship maintain that it was written long after his reign by an anonymous writer.  The most we can ascertain is that the writer was a learned Greek-speaking Jew and probably a teacher, and that he was familiar with Hellenistic philosophy, rhetoric and culture.  A burning issue of those times was how is it that the just suffer and the wicked prosper?  Skepticism and individualism were rampant.

Sound familiar?  It is so hard to discern God’s will for us.  There are no billboards.  We wrestle with what we think is right for us vs. what God may think is right for us.  We also wrestle when bad things happen, and we try to wrap our minds around how that can be.  In the end, the Holy Spirit imparts wisdom to us when we allow Spirit in.  Margaret Silf from Inner Compass (p. 92) says, “God’s will – his desire for me – and my own deepest desire (when I am really living true) are one and the same thing!”  Yet we are so burdened by our “earthen shelter”.  How does this reading speak to you in where you are in your life right now?

2nd Reading – Philemon 9b-10, 12-17

This is the only personal letter of Paul that has survived. Onesimus was a slave who had run away from his master, Philemon, a Christian of Colossae. He had joined Paul in prison and under Paul’s influence Onesimus became Christian. Paul is sending him back as “no longer a slave but a brother.” Paul does not abolish slavery, it is true. That would have been impossible in the ancient world. But, rather,  Paul transforms the relationship between master and slave with faith in Christ Jesus.  (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu/23OrdC090510 )

In a way, Paul is asking Philemon to forego his legal rights, ownership and cultural understandings in favor of God’s way of wisdom and love. Right in the middle of this Sunday’s readings, this passage is a powerful example of what the 1stReading is saying and what Jesus will be asking of us in the Gospel.

What understandings do you have to overcome in order truly be Jesus’ disciple?  Do you have a friend with whom you can share your heart like Paul and Onesimus?

The Gospel – Luke 14: 25-33

This gospel consists of a string of sayings on the cost of discipleship, followed by two parables to help illustrate what Jesus meant. “Hate’ is a very harsh word. Exaggeration was a common technique for preachers in Jesus’ day; in an oral culture one had to make important points with strength. The original Aramaic (Jesus’ language) might have meant simply to “love less than.” But no matter the translation, the meaning is clear: following Jesus means the surrender of the whole of one’s life. (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu/23OrdC090510 )  How does this challenging gospel speak to you? Why not talk it over with Jesus?

There is a poem on a wall in the children’s home started by Mother Teresa in Calcutta.

Anyway, Never Give Up!

Discipleship is an unusual undertaking;

The better you become at it,

the more difficult and challenging it will be.

Be a disciple anyway; never give up!

The people you are called to serve may be unlikable,

ungrateful and unimpressed by your dedication.

Love and serve them anyway; never give up!

If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Do good anyway; never give up!

The good you do for Christ will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway; never give up!

Honesty, humility and simplicity may make you vulnerable.

Be honest, humble and simple anyway, never give up!

What you spend years building may seem

insignificant in the eyes of others.

Build anyway; never give up!

People really need help but may attack you if you help them.

Help them anyway; never give up!

Give the world the best you have

and you may get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world your best anyway; never give up! 

(From Celebration, September, 2001)

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One response

  1. Another great job, don’t you ever give up, we need you and appreciate you also. Due to this weekends scheduling this really hit home for me.
    I have a broad circle of friends in the Bridge World from all walks of life, from extremely affluent, to struggling to survive. From age 26 whom I travel with quite often, to age 96 who is able to compete and still win.
    About a dozen or more are from our Parish, and many more Jewish worshippers, and yes at least one Atheist that claims to be Agnostic. Speaking on the latter I have shared myself heart and soul with him, with at least enough success that he is thinking in terms of my faith, constantly. He has listened in, as I listen to an audio bible, or simply read aloud a daily reading. I can attest that in fulfilling our calling as Jesus’ disciple, that remaining calm and peaceful in Him does affect other non-Christian’s.
    My friend has yet to win over those that dislike him, maybe for his beliefs and maybe for other reasons. It has to remain a work in progress and that mission is likely to never change, be it with him or with someone else.
    Just maybe some of the understanding we have to overcome is best conquered by bringing what we have deep inside us, our faith, and allowing it to surface freely. Once we rejoice in being saved, then helping others is just so natural.

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