The 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 4th September 2022
Lectionary Readings: Wis. 9:13-18; Ps. 90:3-6. 12-14. 17; Phlm. 9-10. 12-17;
Theme: To be a true disciple
The gospel today tells us of the three times Jesus said one “cannot be my disciple.” If we take the opposite or the flip side, we can arrive at the three conditions needed to become a disciple of Jesus. These are: 1) Hate one’s father, mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters; 2) carry one’s cross; and 3) give up all possessions.
Two more conditions are added to these from the short parables Jesus had told on one who wishes to build a tower and on a king’s intent to go to war. These are to begin to be a disciple with a clear head, knowing fully what it will cost and with the intention to persevere and to have a realistic assessment of a task on hand, considering the pros and cons and the impact of the actions to be taken.
The setting and audience for today’s gospel differ from that of last Sunday. Jesus was attending a banquet with Pharisees and lawyers (vv 15-24) who were among those identified to be hostile to him (Luke 11:53-54). In today’s Gospel, Jesus is back on the road, on his way to Jerusalem and is talking to the crowd following him.
Green, (1997), points out “important topical connections” of the two narratives. In the great banquet story, Jesus had introduced the possibility that one’s ties to possessions and family might disqualify one from enjoying the divine feast. Jesus likewise told the crowds traveling with him that adhering to one’s family network and possessions can be impediments to authentic discipleship.
Green also says that Luke has not portrayed all Pharisees with a single hue and that the level of animosity that was shown in 11:53-54 cannot simply be regarded as that of all Pharisees.
The Gospel is to be proclaimed to the outcast, the blind, lame and poor (7:22) and the Pharisees and those at the banquet are to invite them. I take this to mean that the rich and those at the top society, are enjoined to be God’s co-hosts and are also invited to be disciples who can join the divine feast. I agree with Green though, that the standard for them is much higher. They have a lot more to give up (e.g. sense of entitlement, prestige and possessions) as they are enjoined to be humble and generous without expecting to be repaid.
Thus, in different audiences, the Pharisees or gentiles, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, Jesus stated the need to transform and to be reborn to reflect new commitments, attitudes and faith and to have new forms of behavior, a repetition of what Luke has stated earlier (vv 8:4-21; 9:23-27, 57-62; 12:13-59. 25-27). It means that discipleship entails the making of a new identity, not along family or ancestral lines nor based on one’s social status but based on making God as the first priority and center of one’s life and being faithful to the message of Jesus. For most of us, this is not going to be a walk in the park. As enjoined by today’s First Reading from the Book of Wisdom, we need God’s help and divine wisdom.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. What is hard for you to let go of in order to be a true disciple? 2. How will you help others in your family and community to convert themselves into good disciples?
Bibliography: Green, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, (Michigan, 1997); Johnson, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke (Minnesota, 1991).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna July 2014