[Cyber-version~Homily for 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: Wis. 9:13-18b; Ps. 90:3-4,5-6,12-13,14-17; Phmn. 9-10,12-17; Lk. 14:25-33]
The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are perhaps some of the hardest to receive. In speaking to the crowds who were following Him Jesus lays out in clear terms the price of being His disciple. We could, as many did then and have done over the centuries turn away or hide behind our human explanations of these words…”carry your cross…follow me…renounce all of your possessions (including your relationships) if you are to follow me”.
Yet Christ spoke the simple truth in love. Whatever possessions we cling to, unless given wholly to Christ, hinders us from taking the cross, with Him. Whatever we fail to release to God restricts our ability to receive Him and all He longs to be and give through our lives. Perhaps a fire hydrant may help us understand.
One day, back when I working in the fire department, I was inspecting some hydrants in an area of new construction. I had with me an engine and crew and we set about checking the flow of the new hydrants that had been installed. The first few checked fine. However when we came to one at the end of the street we discovered it would fail the flow test without even turning it on. Upon removing the cap from the discharge we found that the inside was packed with sand, gravel, plastic sheeting and other construction debris. The hydrant that should have been able to quickly flow hundreds of gallons of water could not even flow a drop. The hydrant was full of all the stuff of which it was surrounded. It was not able to flow that for which it had been designed.
God designed us to be filled and flowing with life, with love. This includes relationships, this includes the things we need to live life here on earth. Yet when we start to hold onto..possess any of these things the flow of life, of God, of love is hindered. We parents do not possess our children, they are God’s gift for us to love and nurture. Spouses do not possess each other..they are couples through which the course of life and love is meant flow and share. The things we do…or have for our work and life,some of great beauty and value, all are talents and treasures of God’s placed in our lives for the stewardship of His purpose, His plans. Even the very dust we strive to clean away from our things, our relationships, is given by Him to remind us that only that which is from Him will last.
Our Lord longs for our lives to be filled and flowing with peace that lasts beyond possessions, with love that satisfies beyond lusts; with the riches of Heaven, even here on earth. The simple truth of today’s Gospel is ours to discover every moment, every time we release to Christ that which we think we own…and receive His Cross, receive Him who gave all on the Cross to be our love forever.