Knowledge alone has limits. We also need wisdom to understand the ways of God.
God’s power has no boundaries; it is not limited by space and time.
Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Paul encourages one of his converts to consider his former slave a brother in Christ Jesus.
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
Background on the Gospel Reading
In chapter 14 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking to people gathered at the table about the difficulties of following him. This group of people is suspicious about Jesus, looking to catch him doing something wrong. Jesus speaks to them in parables, emphasizing that although there is a right way to be a disciple and enter into the kingdom of his Father, it is a difficult path to follow. Many, even some of the guests at the table, reject the invitation. So Jesus turns to the crowds and speaks to them of discipleship. Jesus explains that, when it comes to making a choice for the Kingdom of God, nothing can get in the way. When Jesus describes “hating” one’s father and mother, he is not talking about feelings. Rather, he is emphasizing very strongly that choosing to be a disciple means that everything else—family, money, your own life—must come second. In Matthew’s version of this story (Matthew 10:37), Jesus refers not to “hating” father or mother, but to loving them more than Jesus. Jesus makes it very clear that being a disciple is not easy. It means to bear one’s own cross. These difficult sayings of Jesus are followed by two brief parables (a person constructing a tower and a king marching into battle) that make an obvious point—don’t start what you cannot finish. Discipleship is difficult and is something we can commit to only if we are prepared to put the Kingdom of God before everything else.
Provide your children with a list of things that they are responsible for interspersed with things that they like to do—for example, make their beds, take out the garbage, go to the park, do homework, watch television, have a snack, feed the cat. The list should reflect their responsibilities and favorite recreations. Tell them to pretend that company is coming and ask which of the things listed should be done first. Explain that this is called setting priorities.
Paraphrase the Gospel story for the children. Ask them what Jesus says is the most important thing for them to do. Jesus tells us that the number-one priority is to follow him. But just as it is not always easy to do the things we are supposed to do before doing the fun things, it is not always easy to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when we put Jesus first, we will be truly happy.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings