Bulletin: September 4, 2022
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom asks us “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?” If we put this in contemporary language, we might say “You haven’t got a clue!” There are times when none of us knows what is going on. Life is beyond our understanding. We seek loved ones, mentors, friends, spiritual directors, and therapists to help us comprehend. This is a common theme through all of today’s scriptures. Wisdom reminds us, “scarce do we guess these things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty.” Psalm 90 pleads, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Saint Paul is speaking on behalf of Onesimus, and begging Philemon to welcome him. Luke’s Gospel is very challenging to hear. Today we see that not all the lessons we need to learn are pleasant or joyful, but they are timely.
MINISTRIES AND CALLS—VOCATIONS AND AVOCATIONS
Prior to this week’s Gospel, great crowds were beginning to follow Jesus. Excitement was building, as there were whispered conversations wondering if this were the long-awaited King that the Hebrews were hoping for. The crowds’ idea of a king was very different, however, from what Jesus was offering. The king they were waiting for was a high priest, a Messiah. This was not the kingdom that Jesus was preaching, but rather one of pain, of carrying one’s cross and burdens—a kingdom that one must not approach lightly, but make serious plans and efforts to help build. Too often we see this passage, thinking it harsh and referring only to those called to religious life. The truth is that we are all called to charity. Taking up our cross is not a call to suffer for the sake of suffering, but to pursue goodness and righteousness.
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
The Cost of Discipleship is the name of the powerful book written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian who was killed in a Nazi death camp. Today we see breakdowns in family relationships over religion and politics. We see those who forget how to forgive, and those who were never taught how to love. Bonhoeffer offered a message that could be applied to any story right out of the evening news. He said that Christian love doesn’t distinguish between enemies, except that those who hate more bitterly are in greater need of love. Indeed, they should expect only unqualified love from a Christian. Bonhoeffer concludes that if one is not willing to love indiscriminately as a disciple of Christ, then one is not a Christian at all. When Jesus asks us today to take up our cross, he is asking us to take up the discipline of Christian love.