Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

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September 06, 2019

As Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel passes through towns and villages, we offer a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM for your prayer wherever you live. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection September 8 2019. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos: Immaculate Conception Parish, Fulda, OH

Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

“Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’

“Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.

“In the same way anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

BACKGROUND:

Last week’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14) placed Jesus at table with a leading member of the Pharisees for a Sabbath meal. The custom of the day would have been to place the most honored guests at the right and the left of the host. But all at the table would have been people of similar status. Jesus challenged those attending the meal to rethink how to gain honor. That text concluded with the reassuring statement that all will be “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)

Immediately following that text, but not included in last Sunday’s gospel, is a comment from another dinner guest: “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15b) In response to this, Jesus tells a parable with a familiar theme—a great banquet. Many of the invited declined to attend this banquet, so “the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame” (Luke 14:21d) were invited instead. And because there was still some room, even the strangers along the road were invited.

Luke’s gospel then describes Jesus addressing great crowds that had been traveling with him, and that address is the text for this week’s gospel. But Luke will return to the image of a great banquet next week, when Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son.

As Jesus addresses the crowds in today’s gospel, his focus is on those who might consider becoming one of his disciples. In what may be startling language, he tells them that a disciple’s primary loyalty must be their relationship with him. He uses the word hate to describe the quality of one’s other relationships. This must be understood in the context of Jesus’ other teachings about the quality of a disciple’s relationships to others, including one’s enemies. But one also needs to realize that in this society where one’s status and livelihood were based on maintaining family relationships, that when one shifted their primary relationship away from family, there would be negative consequences for that decision. Therefore, disciples should expect that they will have to accept their suffering as part of their participation in the cross of Jesus. In addition to this, their access to and use of possessions will also be impacted by a decision to become a disciple.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Can you recall a situation when you found yourself wishing that you had known more fully what getting involved in a project was really going to involve?
2. Who are the people who have mentored and guided you through new projects or responsibilities?
3. When you think of people who have been ostracized for taking a stand, or for trying to live gospel values…
4. When you think of the things that you have had to “leave behind” or “let go of” in order to do what you needed to do to live as a disciple of Jesus…
5. What does it say to you that Jesus wanted those who were considering discipleship to also consider the consequences of their actions?
6. Can you share honestly and openly with God your feelings about trying to live as a disciple of Jesus, or some other aspect of today’s gospel that is important to you?