Whoever does not carry the cross and follow Jesus cannot be his disciple. Luke 14:27
God of the ages,
you call the Church to keep watch in the world
and to discern the signs of the times:
grant us the wisdom that your Spirit bestows,
so that with courage we may proclaim your prophetic word,
and complete the work you have set before us;
through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Jeremiah 18:1-11
- Ps 139:1-5, 12-18
- Philippians 1-25
- Luke 14:25-35
- Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
- Ps 14
- 1 Tim 1
- Luke 15:1-10
A Thought to Ponder
The parables of the tower and the king preparing for war:
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple . . . Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
Today’s Gospel is the beginning of a treatise, unique to Luke’s Gospel, on the nature and demands of discipleship.
Jesus’ sobering words in today’s Gospel are meant to make us fully aware of the cost of discipleship before we embrace something we are not prepared for. The gift of grace comes at the price of the same cross awaiting Jesus in Jerusalem.
Some translations of today’s Gospel ascribe rather harsh words to Jesus: in some texts, Jesus speaks of “turning one’s back” on family; in other translations, the verb “hate” is used. A more precise translation of the idiom here is whoever prefers the love of family or self to Christ cannot be his follower.
The images of the unfinished tower and the king poorly prepared for battle illustrate the frustration and ultimate failure of the disciple who does not give himself/herself totally to the Gospel. When a follower of Jesus begins to hold anything back in imitating Christ, discipleship becomes a charade.
Jesus calls us to seek reconciliation rather than dominance, to love and forgive without limit or condition, to give totally and completely regardless of the cost or sacrifice. Such is the cross Jesus asks us to take up.
As the tower builder and the king preparing for war discover, our days are limited – too limited to squander on obsessing about things at the expense of our relationships with family and friends. Jesus challenges us to live every moment of our lives as a time for preparation and “planning” for much greater and lasting things than this world of ours offers.
Often, we refuse to “let go” of things that are making our lives so much less than we want them to be. The gifts of God can only be grasped with the open hands of humility and prayer; the grasping hands of materialism and self-centeredness condemn us to a life of emptiness.
We tend to think of the crosses we bear as disorders, complications, disappointments – even people – we are forced to endure. But, in reality, God lays upon our shoulders crosses – talents, abilities, skills, gifts – that can be sources of hope, of joy, of discovery, of life, of resurrection — for ourselves and others.
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