Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are hearing a lot of talk these days about “change.” It's been one of the big words in the history of the Catholic Church. Change is one of the buzzwords in today’s business world. The gospel of today speaks of the radical change in attitude Jesus sets in front of us. What the Lord is really doing is giving His disciples a reality check: Are they willing to pay the price? Do they know the price of the change Jesus has in mind? Jesus well knew the costs involved in change. We find Him here in today’s Gospel episode on the way to Jerusalem. There He would be humiliated, tortured, and put to death. Finally it would change everything in our relationship with God[1].

And he stopped all those following him and asked: Do you REALLY know what you're doing? Are you sure you are willing to follow in my footsteps? Did you count the costs? And are you willing to pay them?

 Let us be honest: we all want cost free and painless change. We want to lose forty pounds by swallowing a pill, not by exercises. We want to reduce the federal debt without paying for it, and change is costly. It hurts. It demands energy, time, and what's deep down inside us.

My brother, my sister, comfort and change cannot both exist in the same person or the same people at one and the same time. Do not say that you are going to change anything, your government, your amount of body fat, your drinking patterns, your ways of relating to those around you, or your spiritual life, without giving up all that offers you comfort and security. Change costs.

Being a real disciple of Christ is way of life that is demanding. It can cost you the loss of friendships. Others will ridicule you, laugh at you, and scorn you for our values. Let me give you some examples:

Being openly pro-life. Respecting all of human life from its first moment of its existence until it, in the end, returns to God.

Having strong morals in a world that claims you have a right sensual pleasure and gratification.

Holding to the value that marriage is a lifetime covenant commitment between a man and a woman oriented toward having children and raising them.

Supporting public policies that protect and support our Christian values.

Jesus came to establish one church, not many churches. His teachings as they come to us in the Bible are meant to be understood and applied equally to all, not simply accepted and interpreted individually.

In our Catholic Church we worship as a 2,000 year old community in a shared communion, not simply as an aggregate of individuals each with his or her own private relationship with Jesus Christ. We are a family of faith, united, whole, and under one roof led by the successors of St. Peter and the college of Apostles. We have schools, hospitals, and social service agencies that cost but we give generously to support them because Jesus taught, healed, and cared for everybody.

What I am saying is that discipleship costs, it costs us in terms of comfort, popularity, time, energy, and treasure. Being a disciple of our Lord is, when you stop and think about it, a calling that is radical. It goes to the root of who we are, how we understand ourselves, and how we appear in the eyes of others.

Jesus ushered in change, a radical change in the ways in which we relate to ourselves, to others, and to God. There’s nothing automatic about our salvation; it makes demands on what we do, what we value, how we see ourselves, and how we relate to others. The demands are not easy but the rewards are huge, the reward is an eternal life plenty of happiness. We pray today that we might have the courage to join him in a radical change and then share in His Victory ■

[1] Sunday 5th September, 2010, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge—Ps 89(90):3-6, 12-14. Philemon 9-10, 12-17. Luke 14:25-33.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris