Homily for twenty-third Sunday C02 Sep 2016, by Sermons in
The human mind is so deep that it is almost indecipherable. Through psychoanalysis and other psychological efforts, we try to understand the human mind to a level. If we cannot fully understand the human mind, then we can only imagine how deep God’s mind is. No wonder only the Holy Spirit knows the depth of God’s mind (1Cor. 2:11).
It is a funny attempt for man to try to understand God. God says For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts Is. 55:8-9. That is what our first reading reminds us of this morning, that the depth of God’s mind is beyond the bounds of human possibility.
Great crowds followed Jesus on his way to Jerusalem just as so many follow him today, he turned and spoke to them as he speaks to every one of us this morning; If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus reminded the crowds of the cost of following him, for many followed him without realizing the implications or who he really is. Many Jews saw a political liberator in him and so shouted crucifer him when they perceived he was not one. They saw him as a miracle worker, a great prophet, one who has come to heal our sicknesses and pains but not one who has come to save us from the power of sin and lead us to everlasting life in God. That is the mistake so many Christians make today; they see Jesus as just a miracle worker, one who has come to take our pains and sicknesses away. Many Christians believe that following Jesus translates into perfect health; no more sickness, no pains, no misfortunes should come our way. But Jesus turns this morning as he did over two thousand years ago to let us know the centrality of the cross in his mission and our discipleship. The call to discipleship is a call to a radical change, to choose between father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, his own life, and Jesus. It is a call to love God above all things.
No doubt, Jesus is the healer, the miracle worker. He worked miracles wherever he went and still working miracles today wherever he goes, for he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But he turns to tell us this morning not to tie our discipleship to signs and wonders but to learn to follow him in season and out of season.
Our faith and discipleship are not anchored on miracles or answered prayer; whether the Lord grants our request or not, we remain Christians and disciples of the Lord.
Even in moments of pain and imprisonment, St. Paul proclaimed Christ the Lord; he wrote our second reading this morning from prison. He wrote a letter to Philemon begging him to accept Onesimus back, his runaway slave. In this letter, Paul made Philemon understand that the Good News he (Paul) preached brought him chains and kept him in prison. His following of Christ did not bring him gold, did not lead him to palace but brought him chains and imprisonment. yet, Paul did not give up on God; he did not doubt. He kept his focus. Paul knew that the chains and the imprisonment would not stop his eternal race just as pains, sickness, and misfortunes cannot stop our eternal race. We do not pray for these things, but they shouldn’t stop us.
Therefore, Discipleship is a radical decision to make; being a Christian is more than following Jesus and going to Church; it is about faith. Our Christian faith shouldn’t be tied to answered prayers, signs, and miracles. It is not a thing of the crowd but an individual decision. Do not follow because others are following, be convinced of decisions and actions. The decision to follow Jesus, to be a true Christian is something of the heart; we do not need the crowd. The crowd shouted hosanna in the highest, the same crowd shouted crucify him when things did not go their way, but the individual who makes up his or her mind to truly follow Jesus Christ remains steadfast in good and bad times.
We are therefore challenged today to renew our commitment to follow Jesus Christ no matter the cost.