TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- Wis 9: 13-18 Phl 9f., 12-17 Lk 14:25-33
The Price of Being a Christian
The World’s Street-Smart Wisdom vs. God’s; Commitment, Self-Control, and Detachment.
The ancient Romans easily found a sufﬁcient ﬁgurative connection between commerce, theft, and eloquence to place merchants, thieves, and orators under one and the same deity the god Mercury.
Whether this connection between merchants, thieves, and orators is correct or not, we leave it to you to judge. But in our day one thing is sure. Every one —business—person, thief, or orator; doctor, lawyer, rich man, poor man, beggar man, or thief — has to ﬁnd out if he is willing to pay the price to come ,under the god he says he serves.
The great crowds (v. 25) surrounding Jesus in today’s Gospel passage contained the exultant, sensation seeking people streaming from the streets and alleys of the towns —the poor, the crippled, and the blind (v. 21). They thought Jesus was on the way to an empire; he knew he was on the way to the cross. They thought discipleship had no costs; he, now on his way to Jerusalem to suffer and die, was aware of its demands.
He had to say something to put them straight. People had to know what they were getting themselves into. So he gave three conditions for following him — putting commitment to him above everything else, including family ties; maintaining self-control; and developing detachment from possessions. Those are the opposites, then and now, of worldly people — who go for lack of commitment, self-indulgence, and attachment to all you can lay your hands on.
To sift through the complex demands, both before Christ’s time and after, we need a wisdom from above. Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us that. At the time this book was written, about a hundred years before Christ’s birth, the Jewish community at Alexandria in Egypt, the place where it was written, lived in a world where different religions and philosophies were vying for converts. The devout Jew felt out of place in that world. To counter that feeling, this book taught that there was no need to envy other ways of life. Commitment to God, even when His plan lay beyond our understanding, is the true way to wisdom.