Fr. Dale’s Homily
23rd Sunday of OT (Cycle C)
September 3-4, 2022
Gospel: Luke 14: 25-33
The Subway, not the sandwich, is a very smart system of transportation. I think it be great to have one in Louisville, even a “light rail” version of one. To me, the use of a subway is a sign of metropolitan maturity. The “L” in Chicago, the “Bart” in the San Francisco Bay area, the “Metro” in Washington, DC, “The Tube” in London are the nifty names of but a few on which I have ridden…
Just like Louisville, if you ever traveled up river to Cincinnati, you will note that there is NO subway… a lot of concrete and blacktop, but NO subway. One began in the early part of the last century, was abandoned a few years later – unfinished due to a lack of funds and political tangles (imagine that?) Only a length of tunnel and a partially completed station remains; a true tribute to bureaucracy. Cincinnati is not unique in this. History is full of instances where projects were started without adequate planning and more than adequate resources to complete them. Maybe Jesus knew a few Roman urban improvement schemes in his own day! But this theme in today’s Gospel is much more profound. He offers – in effect – three warning to those who would travel with him on the road of discipleship.
Enthusiasm is one thing; commitment is something else. Luke continues to portray Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, now accompanied by enthusiastic crowds. But Luke’s description is crucial; the crowds are not “following” Jesus; they are merely “traveling with” him. For the Gospel writer, this journey is a metaphor for discipleship. “To follow” implies commitment. The final destination will be Calvary. Jesus makes it clear; we are to shoulder our own crosses if we are to be disciples.
We need to be realistic about our commitment. Jesus’ two examples – a building project and a military campaign – are both meant to caution the would-be disciple. Embarking on the journey of discipleship will be costly. We must be willing to pay the price for remaining faithful until the end.
Ironically, material possessions are not part of the “disciple’s budget”. Whereas the builder and the general are both calculating what resources to have at hand, the disciple is looking to get rid of things! Renouncing possessions – letting go of our dependence on whatever keeps us from carrying the cross – that is the key to discipleship.
We who are gathered at Eucharist today have to “translate” the metaphor of Jesus’ warnings “on the road” to our contemporary situation.
Today, How much will it cost me? translates to mean How cheaply can I get what I want?
Today’s Gospel reading is about what it takes to be a genuine disciple. Here the issue is not ice cream or a used car or something that we might carry home from the mall. Nor is it about the cost of relationship with just any person. It is about the ability to reckon or not reckon the cost that means “forever”.
As individuals, we must reckon the cost of discipleship: so we ask self: what risks am I willing to take for the sake of Gospel? What decisions must I make to keep focus on Christ and his call? How do material possessions influence my following Jesus?
As a community, we must reckon the cost of discipleship: so we ask ourselves: How does our parish mission reflect the demands of the Gospel? What decisions have we made to promote the Gospel? How have we given over our parish resources to best follow Christ?
May the Spirit – source of all wisdom – be with us at this table, and continue to form us as disciples into His Body… the Body of Christ!