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Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Lk. 14:25-33.

Jesus had reached the zenith of His popularity. Wherever He went crowds gathered around Him. They came for a variety of reasons.

Some were drawn by curiosity. They had heard of the wonders He had done and they wanted to see Him for themselves. Others came because they or their loved ones were sick and they were aware that He could help them. Some, no doubt, were drawn by patriotic zeal. They hoped to use Jesus as the spark to ignite a revolt against Rome. And some, although they would be in the minority, wanted to be His followers.

Looking around at these would-be disciples, Jesus said, "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." The suggestion that we should hate our loved ones is unthinkable. What does Jesus mean by this word? He certainly does not mean that we should reject our families but that we should love Him even more than we love them. Jesus knew that following Him would not be easy.

To those who were considering becoming His disciples He said, "You must give up all your possessions." By "possessions" in this context, surely Jesus means an attachment to our loved ones which is greater than our attachment to Him.

I remember once, on a mission, I was told by a lady that she had no time to get to Mass on Sunday. She was married to a non-Catholic, worked Monday to Friday and spent Saturday shopping, cleaning her house and looking after her sick mother. Sunday was the day she gave to her husband. How could she find time to go to Church? I told her that all God asks is to give Him one hour and her husband 23 hours. But she said, 'Am I not obeying the commandment to love my husband?' She must love her husband, of course, but as Jesus said, God must come first.

The message from Jesus Is that if we really love Him and want to follow Him we must count the cost. This means forward planning and careful preparation. He gives two examples, a man building a tower and a king going into battle. If Jesus were talking to us today, He might use the example of a man setting out on a long car journey: he makes sure that the car is roadworthy, with enough fuel, and has planned the best route.

Preparing to follow Jesus is rather like preparing for marriage. Enthusiasm and romantic ideals are not enough. Anyone thinking of marrying should take a good look at their intended partner and carefully consider what is involved in the commitment. Only then will they be reasonably certain of success. Anyone thinking of following Jesus must be aware of what will be expected of them. There are many people who have attended evangelical rallies and found themselves swept along on a wave of emotional fervour. A lifelong commitment to Jesus needs a much more solid foundation.

Lord Jesus, following You is the best thing that can ever happen to us, but we need Your help to follow You wholeheartedly.

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