Theme of the Sunday: It is Not Easy to Follow Christ! Jesus did not want to deceive anybody about the difficulty of being his disciple. In the gospel he sets down three conditions. If one wants to be his disciple, one must break away from (‘hate’) one’s family, one’s goods and even one’s’ own life. These demands are unacceptable to those who think in human terms. They can be understood and accepted only by those who have been granted “wisdom from above,” as we read in the first reading. The letter to Philemon is a beautiful example of love in practice, of forgiveness, and detachment from material goods.

FIRST READING
A reading from the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 9: 13-18b)
Who can discern what the Lord wills?

What man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail, for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind. We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labour; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit from on high? And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were taught what pleases you.
The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 90:3—4.5-6.12-13.14 and 17 (R.1)
R/. O Lord, you have been our refuge, from generation to generation.

You turn man back to dust,
and say, “Return, O children of men.”
To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
or like a watch in the night. R/.

You sweep them away like a dream,
like grass which is fresh in the morning.
In the morning it sprouts and is fresh;
by evening it withers and fades. R/.

R/. O Lord, you have been our refuge, from generation to generation.

Then teach us to number our days,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Turn back, O Lord! How long?
Show pity to your servants. R/.

At dawn, fill us with your merciful love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us;
give success to the work of our hands.
O give success to the work of our hands. R/.

SECOND READING
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to Philemon (Philemon 9b-10.12-17)
Receive him no longer as a slave but as a beloved brother.

Beloved: I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus — I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the Gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.
The word of the Lord.

ALLELUIA Psalm 119: 135
Alleluia. Make your face shine forth on your servant, and teach me your decrees. Alleluia.

GOSPEL
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 14:25-33)
Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

At that time: Great multitudes accompanied Jesus, and he turned and said to them, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
The Gospel of the Lord.

Today’s Reflection

Discipleship of Jesus demands a high cost. It is like constructing a tower involving much expense and effort. It is, again, like waging a costly, demanding war against the enemy. In both instances, the one who undertakes them requires great resources, including strong will and courage, to complete the duty.

What is the cost one incurs in order to follow Christ? First, it involves alienation from one’s own kith and kin. One should have the courage and will to break away from family ties in favour of Jesus, way of life and his discipleship. People, including relatives, also begin to hate you and keep you out! Second, it involves suffering and self-sacrifice. There will be occasions when one is called upon to sacrifice one’s comforts, and even one’s very life for the sake of Christ. There will be calumny, rejection, alienation and brokenness. “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20). Jesus’ was is the way of the cross. It is a life of renunciation and self-sacrifice. “Therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has, cannot be my disciple.” The cost is high, but the ultimate reward is nothing less than a life of total union with the Lord.

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