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Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Third Sunday of Ordered time -C- September 8, 2019


 

The

23rd

SUNDAY

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. --

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 23 C

Today's Gospel reading is quite clear in its declaration. Jesus tells us: "Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." That can be very challenging in our day and age, for sure.

What Jesus tells us we must do just before that is even more uncomfortable though! In some translations, Jesus says that "hating" one's family and self is also a prerequisite for being a disciple! How do we reconcile that statement with Jesus's other messages about loving these same people and our neighbors and ourselves without watering down the intent of what was meant or simply ignoring the whole thing?

A more modern translation in the Message states: "anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of his father and mother...." To me, that portrays a more accurate sense of what Jesus meant. We can not hold onto, cling to, or give something or someone else the primary place that Jesus deserves.

Once we can get over the harshness of wrestling with "hating" people whom Jesus tells us elsewhere to love, we can then focus on how we are to put Jesus first in our lives. That seems challenging enough given many "good" things that compete for First Place. How do we tell what really is "first" in our lives?

One tried and true way is to pay attention to what it is that actually occupies our time and attention. I used to have my student teachers do a personal time management survey and make a pie chart of how they spent their time away from school. It was amazing how putting something in visual form actually helped them "find" time to write lesson plans and grade papers while still maintaining personal relationships, personal time choices, and sleep. I think the same route to "finding" time might be helpful to each of us... but only if we don't consider "doing nothing" or "down time" as time wasted!

"Doing nothing" is often the best time with God, reflecting on our lives and making adjustments to our "schedules". It also helps us to refresh so that we can put our energy where God wants it to be. "Doing nothing" is often just what the soul needs most!

If you choose to try this activity, you might find that God-stuff gets precious little "alone" time in your day. Being more aware of that deficit can actually help bring God into the more routine activities of the day. Start with hemming in the day with a little prayer time morning and evening, then add things like getting to work, doing laundry, waiting for a meeting to begin or feeding a baby. Think creatively... such as adding uplifting music or a short prayer during those times.

It is about choices, conscious ones. Each of us is gifted with the equal amount of 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. Lord, help us put You in First Place by using the unrecognized gifts and people around us to remind us of You so we can be your true disciples.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Third Sunday of Ordered Time September 8, 2019

Wisdom 9:13-18; Responsorial Psalm 90; Philemon 9:10 & 12-17; Gospel Acclamation Psalm 119:135; Luke 14:25-33

What a terrible gospel selection we have this Sunday! All during our youth, during our adolescence, during our young adulthood, through middle age, and in our most senior years we are taught, cajoled, and whipped into the belief that love is the answer to all our problems. Yet, in Luke’s gospel this Sunday we are told to hate our father, our mother, our brothers, and our sisters. What is going on? Did some group of monks in the scriptoriums of the dark ages take out their frustrations by rewriting Luke’s gospel, adding in the dark side of their experiences? Unless you take a long look at this reading from two different perspectives we’re likely to understand nothing of Jesus’ teaching here. First in the language of the Hebrews there is no comparative. So the grammar prevented Jesus from saying, "unless you love me more than you do the customs, culture, way of life of your parents, your brothers, your sisters, and your neighbors you’re not going to be my followers." Jesus way of life is not the way of the world. And in so far as the way of living of family, nations, and culture are contrary to Jesus’ way, those ways are not the way of living Jesus teaches us.

This teaching warns us that "going along to get along" doesn’t lead to the way of Jesus.

The second part of Jesus’ teaching is that anyone who wishes to follow in the way of Jesus should carefully consider the cost of being a disciple. Anyone who prepares for a significant project should consider whether or not the resources available are sufficient to complete the project. Anyone who begins what he cannot finish looks foolish and becomes a laughing stock.

This way of Jesus sounds awfully difficult. It’s about loving those who hate you. It’s about sharing your hard won resources with those on the margins of society. It means holding onto truth even when the truth is inconvenient. It’s a tough job being a follower of Jesus.

Many among us will agree but insist that the reward of eternal life is worth it. But that’s only half the story. The other half is that living the way of Jesus makes us free now in this life. So often the way of the world is about idolatry. It is an easy task to worship power in ourselves or in others. There are times when the worship of power causes us to forget our own morality. We easily succumb to the wishes of a powerful person even though that person’s wishes are contrary to our consciences. We tend to make up excuses for such a person’s actions or point to successes in that person’s work that seem beneficial to ourselves.

There are times when we worship wealth. Those are the times when we encourage great tax cuts for the super wealthy and huge corporations. The wealth of those groups is typically based on the labor of others. Sharing the wealth through fair taxation to support the needs of a nation or even a community is a burden often resting on the poor. Taxation of necessities affects those with limited resources more than it affects those who have great wealth. When we worship wealth we espouse the trite saying, "I’ve got mine; you get your own."

Too often we worship notoriety. It makes little difference if notoriety is earned by hard work. It gains no worth by endorsement of popular silliness. It gains no dignity by the abuse of less fortunate. In every case such worship robs the worshipped and the worshiper of lasting dignity and worth.

I’ve asked Father Zeke if he, without breaking the seal of the confessional, could tell me about how often he’s heard the sin of idolatry confessed. "No seal broken. I’ve never heard it confessed." Perhaps our sensitivities are weakened to the point where we fail to recognize idolatry in our lives.

In truth, this gospel tells us that loving Jesus the Christ is how we become all that we can be. Falling in line with the failures of others warps our character. Such loving of others’ erroneous ways leads us astray from the truth of the Incarnation.

In this context we have also this week-end a reading from Paul’s letter to Philemon. Paul has befriended a slave – one Onesimus – who is the property of Philemon. Philemon is thought to be the head of the House Church in Laodicaea. Even so he owned this man slave, Onesimus. It’s strange that the name means Profitable. It is repulsive for us, in our time and place, to accept the fact that Paul seems to accept slavery. He writes this letter to Philemon and trusts Onesimus to carry it back to Philemon. Because Onesimus had fled his captivity, he was subject to be severely disciplined. In the time of Paul there were over sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire. To prevent uprisings, the law dealt severe punishments on disobedient slaves. Paul’s letter does nothing to support slavery. Its intent is to encourage Philemon to accept back his slave Onesimus as a brother in Christ. Paul insists that slavery doesn’t rob the slave of dignity and worth.

Following the way of Jesus is very often in conflict with the culture in which we live and make our living. We are likely to ask the question, "What’s in it for me? Why should I bother with trying to follow Jesus? It’s too much effort and does nothing to make me richer, more powerful, or more influential."

Perhaps the question should be, "What am I looking for? What do I really want?"

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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