XXIII Sunday in Ordinary
8 September 2019
The word ‘commitment’ means the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or a person … for example marriage. Marriage is a huge commitment and involves the dedication of the whole person – one cannot go into a marriage only partially committed. As such, men and women that enter into the sacred bond of marriage ponder this commitment over a period time – they reflect on it and consider the weight of their decision. Obligations are certainly a big part of making a commitment. In describing a commitment we use words like: faithfulness, devotion, fidelity, bond, etc … words that we would also associate with our Catholic faith.
This is point that Jesus is trying to make in the Gospel … commitment … consider what Christianity entails. The intent here is not to deceive. He is urging His would-be followers to consider the demands of discipleship. He warns them, this way, this life … this will not be easy. It may involve the renunciation of family, earthly goods … and a great deal of sacrifice. You would be amazed at how many young men who enter the seminary do so without the support or approval of family – parents included! You might be surprised to know that even within my own family there is lack of understanding of how I live and my commitment to Christ, the priesthood, the Church, to you – that is placed above family responsibility. And you see my salary … believe me its not for the money!!
It is interesting to note how people are attracted to things that are difficult and challenging … When Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, he ran an advertisement in The London Times: “MEN WANTED: for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” Over 5,000 applied. He did not sell anything glamorous… and nor is the Gospel. So often TV preachers, many protestant ministers try to sell the Gospel like a used car … they make it sound easy, glamorous … with no real commitment. This is NOT the prosperity gospel of Joel Olsteen… this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ… Jesus does not turn to the crowd looking for wishy-washy tagalongs! If we think that Christianity is all about being nice to each other … read this gospel passage again – carefully!
So what is it? What is it that draws us to Jesus … He knows us … inside and out – Jesus knows us. He reveals to us the truth about our humanity, human sexuality, the reality of things eternal … of that which right, true, good and beautiful … values, principles and morals on which to stand – these are not just as a set of ideals but that with which we identify … as such, we find in Christ our very identity – who we are to very core of our being is found in Him. We do so to identify with Christ and to make Him known to others … and when we face hardships in our lives, when we suffer – it is not to be considered punishment but rather the way in which we identify with Him … we do not suffer for no reason or no purpose … but for the glory of Him who suffered first … for our entry into Heaven.
He committed Himself to us – to the shedding of His blood and rising from the dead, He committed Himself to us … our response to that then … the same level of commitment … which in the end is a commitment of love – a love that identifies with the savior, that confers goodness on others … that makes Him known in and through our very lives – no matter the cost, the difficulty