TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Discipleship with Christ prepares us for absolute freedom in ways that will guarantee us a full inheritance in the kingdom of God with Christ. Humankind acquires true freedom only through wisdom, understanding, divine knowledge and absolute respect for God. In other words, genuine freedom has its roots deeply embedded in divine virtues, values, and valour as illustrated in the Beatitudes.
The inescapable truth is that God made us be free (Gal.5:1), to be his heirs and coheirs with Christ (Rom.8:17). However, blind and disordered human affections often cloud our vision and hinder our call to discipleship and perfection. Taking full cognizance of the human condition, which obstructs our spiritual growth and freedom to adhere to God’s plan for us, Christ Jesus in Luke 14:25-33 challenges us to take three radical approaches toward the call to discipleship and spiritual freedom.
Firstly, we must pay attention to negative effects of disaffected love and affections, have the courage to walk away from them and place our trust in divine virtues and values over and above human affections. In addition, we must prepare ourselves to imitate Christ in his suffering servanthood to be able to achieve the true freedom and fullness of life that is Christ’s mission to the world (Jn.10:10).
Secondly, discipleship is not a haphazard vocation. The parable of the seeds that fell on the edge of the road, on rocky ground and among thorns is a fine example and consequences of a reckless response to the call to discipleship (Matt.13:4-9). No! Discipleship calls for a deep consciousness and the commitment of a soldier who is ready and willing to endure the rigours of the fierce spiritual battles against all evils in defence of the kingdom and of truth (2Cor.10:4-5). Soldiers must subject themselves to rigorous training. They must love disciplined. They must live detached lives. If they are lackadaisical in their approach on the battlefield, they will be dismal failures in the end and the laughing stock of the victorious enemy.
Thirdly, Christian discipleship challenges those who embrace it to become selfless ambassadors of Christ. Briefly, Christ begs the Church to imitate him and that everyone who is initiated into his body may become incarnate copies of himself in the world (Rom.12:5).
Paul in his letter to Philemon 9-10.12-17 clearly demonstrated that the quality of discipleship Christ demands of all of us. Although he developed a deep paternal affection for Onesimus, yet placing virtue, spiritual values over his personal ambition, Paul gladly surrendered Onesimus to his community where he belonged.
When people subject themselves to God’s will, justice and peace embrace and the presence of the kingdom finds full expression on earth.
Lord, awaken in us the power of your love for the Father, subject our hearts to his will. Keep our eyes fixed on the challenges of the Cross and guide us towards authentic discipleship.