HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: DECIDE TO FOLLOW JESUS
BY: Fr Cyril UNACHUKWU CCE
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
Deciding to follow Jesus entails many things for us; detachment, focus on the goal of the Christian Life, docility of heart, having a faith-inspired spiritual plan, and most importantly familiarity with the Cross of Christ and our ability to carry our respective crosses after the example of the Crucified and Risen Lord. The decision to be a disciple of Christ leads one through the path of change and conversion from our old selves to the new state of life which God wills for us in Christ. One of the shortest paths to self-discovery and transformation is that of Christian Discipleship. May we become true disciples of Christ; Amen.
Our Lord Jesus Christ leaves us a striking message about discipleship in the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 14:25-33). Being a disciple is very central to our Christian Identity. A disciple is essentially one who is open and able to learn from a master; someone who is capable of interpreting and transmitting to others the message and the values he or she has learned both in words and actions. Basically, there are some necessary dispositions that are indispensable for true discipleship and they include self-discipline, the capacity to detach from everything and from everybody that may constitute obstacles on the goal of discipleship. A Christian disciple must always have a plan of action inspired by the Holy Spirit and which is constantly evaluated under the light of the Gospel. A true disciple knows to make reference to the Master, recognising his self-insufficiency and nothingness without the Master. A disciple is one who is able to confront challenges and difficulties equipped by the strategies for victory which he or she must have learnt from his or her Master. For the Christian Discipleship, following the path of the Cross remains the surest strategy to victory. No wonder Jesus was very emphatic in the Gospel of today; “anyone who does not carry his Cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The Cross here does not only mean the daily struggles and challenges we have to face, but also detachment and a sign of a disciple’s refusal to live according to worldly standards. It is important to note this fact especially as the world constantly makes effort to re-define Christian Discipleship and to empty it of its true identity and relationship with the Cross. The world and all the agents of the Evil One are afraid of the Cross and also of any endeavour that associates itself with the Cross. They know that the easiest way to win victory over us is to make us hate the Cross and to dissociate our Christian endeavours from the Cross. On the contrary, the Cross is our sign of victory. Whatever we do that makes no direct or indirect reference to the Cross is unchristian! Likewise, anyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ without the Cross is a fraudster and an impostor.
A disciple is one who is open to positive change. This is one of the lessons we can learn from Onesimus in the Second Reading of today (Philemon 9-10, 12-17). Onesimus was a horrible and mischievous servant who was imprisoned by his Master because of his ungodly ways and deeds. He encountered Christ through the ministry of Saint Paul while in prison and his life never remained the same. Because of Onesimus’ openness to positive change and through the power of his encounter with Christ, his master was to have Him back “not as a slave any more, but something much better than a slave, a dear brother.” Onesimus has encountered God and has become a completely changed man. In his or her relationship with God and fellow human beings, a true disciple recognises the limitations of human wisdom and the sovereignty of God’s will and the fact that our knowledge of God is by the very condition of our human nature limited. To claim to know God in and out is one of the clearest sign of a disorientated, self-willed and self-acclaimed disciple who presents his or her own message instead of the Message which was entrusted to him or her by the Master. A true disciple is humble enough to recognise the true response to the question in the First Reading of today (Wisdom 9:13-18); “as for Your intentions, God, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent Your Holy Spirit from above?” A true disciple is driven and motivated from above; from the One Who has absolute control over all.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true Master of the Christian Life, of docility to the Will of God and of obedience to God’s commands. Under your tutelage and guide, grant us the grace to constantly grow to maturity in the Christian School of Discipleship; Amen. Happy Sunday;