HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: Surrendering Everything for the Sake of Jesus
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
This 23rd Sunday of the liturgical year brings home to us the radical nature of following Jesus. We are called to surrender all we have. If we understand that this demand is addressed to us all and not to a certain group of followers, then it dawns on us that the decision to follow Jesus is a very radical one. How do we accomplish such an Injunction with our greed and inordinate attachment to material things? How can we be authentic Christians in a culture that evaluates one by the amount of material things that one possesses?
1. The first reading from Wisdom 9:13-18 teaches us that the will of God is far beyond what we can grasp with our human way of reasoning. Most of the time the things we consider wise are only conditioned by our materialistic quests. To know what God really wants and wills, we need the Spirit of God to teach us. We need to purify our hearts and minds and allow God to take control. In sum, we need to surrender our thoughts and minds to God.
2. The psalmist of Psalm 90 prays God to make us know the shortness of our life so that we make gain true wisdom. Knowing the shortness of our life helps us to reorder our choices and pursue the things that really matter.
3. In the second reading from Philemon, Paul urges Philemon, his friend, to take back Onesimus, a slave that ran away from him (Philemon) and ran to Paul who was a prisoner. Paul pleads with Philemon to renounce his old status as a slave master but now to accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ, as Onesimus has become baptised.
4. In the Gospel text from Luke 14:25-33, Jesus gives his followers three conditions for true followership: first, one must renounce one’s family members: father, mother, brothers, sisters, husband, wife, children; second, one must renounce one’s own life; third, one must carry one’s cross, that is, accept for the sake of Jesus the sufferings and burdens of everyday. The sum of it all is that the cost of discipleship involves surrendering all claims to anything. One’s only possession is Christ and his bidding. It does not practically mean rejecting our family members or destroying all that we possess and cherish. Rather, it means detaching our minds from them and not letting them rule our lives at the expense of doing God’s will. It means making Christ and all he stands for take priority in everything we do. It is not just to make him first among all other choices but making him the reason for every other choice.
5. Such a way of life is, no doubt, very difficult in a society that adores riches and estimates people only on the bases of their wealth and position. It is difficult to surrender all to Jesus in a society where everyone is in a mad rush to defraud everyone. Rather than surrendering all to Jesus, some even use the name of Jesus to gather all for themselves. Thus, to follow Jesus in the radical way he invites us today, one must undergo thorough conversion. We must understand that in actual fact, nothing really belongs to us, as all we claim we possess can be taken away from us at any instant. We are only custodians and tenants in a world that belongs entirely to God. If we realise this fact, our lifestyles will surely begin to change. That is why the decision to follow Jesus is always preceded by the sincere resolve to change one’s way of life. It is a life with a new orientation and with readiness to follow wherever the Master leads.
To live such a life, one must be guided by the Spirit of God. That is why the Christian life is a life of the Spirit. There is no other way. May the wisdom that comes from God continue to guide us on that path!