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Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Phil. 2:12-18 & Lk. 14:25-33

Work for salvation “in fear and trembling” is what Saint Paul advises the Philippians in the First Reading today. But can you imagine our loving Father wanting us to go around all the time shaking in fear? Most certainly not! This was Paul’s way of emphasizing, “Have at the front of your mind at all times the salvation of your soul. Let nothing come between you and God.”

He advises them to stay clear of complaining or arguing and being perfect children of God who will shine in the world like bright stars. He is encouraging them to be bright lights that will illumine people who are living in a dark immoral world. Their good example will encourage them to follow in their footsteps. If they do this his life will not have been lived in vain.

Our Lord concludes today's Gospel by telling us that discipleship is neither cheap nor easy. He tells us that in a building project there is a need to calculate the costs and estimate the resources needed. That sounds like a feasibility study to me! If there is not this careful preparation the project will not succeed.

Jesus gives another example. War is tough and being beaten is a likely prospect if we do not carefully prepare our tactics. So it is, too, with our discipleship. In our efforts to grow holy, some ‘battles’ will be won easily; others will need to be avoided completely. So let's not be beaten by foolishly overestimating our capacities. This happens especially when we fail to avoid the occasions of sin, thinking ourselves strong enough to handle them. At times, the best battle strategy is not to fight, but to flee!

Lord Jesus, following You is not easy. You ask us to put everything in second place to You and pick up our cross every day. We will not be able to do this without Your grace because we are weak and frail. But we believe that You will give us the strength we need.

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