Sit Down First and Consider 


 

Scripture     Luke 14:25-33

Reading        

                               For which of us intending to build a tower,

                              does not first sit down and estimate the cost,

                              to see whether he has enough to complete it?

                                  Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish,

                                     all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying,

                              “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”

                … Whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.”

       


Reflection

 

This last weekend of summer invites us to pause awhile and consider the ‘new season’ of our lives we are beginning. It’s back to school time and no matter what our age, there always seems to be that little excitement and apprehension that stirs up within us every fall causing us to ponder and prepare for the coming new year. Today’s Gospel is a stark lesson in the total dedication that discipleship with Christ demands.

 

Yes, it’s time to take a closer look into the lessons on discipleship that Luke has been unfolding over the past weeks. In today’s passage, the Teacher Jesus has quite a remarkable ‘first lesson’ in discipleship ready for the great crowds that have come out to listen to him. There is a hint that these great crowds consist of people streaming from all the neighbouring villages: the poor and maimed, blind and lame, now cured, along with his 12 apostles and many faithful followers. There is a kind of awareness growing now that the eschatological kingdom has already come! Yet Jesus very forthrightly seems to want to take a careful pause! This cannot be an impulsive movement. Nor is it a band wagon for simply going along with the crowd and the unquestioned values of the era. No, this is not going to be easy street. The message will not always be popular with one's friends and family. The early enthusiasm of new beginnings must now hear the sobering but enlightened truth. Luke wants his early Christian communities to get it that Jesus points to a discipleship that requires a careful, conscious acceptance of a great task. It is not a casual matter. It is demanding, yet surprisingly joyful.

 

Let us sit down to consider just what these "hard sayings” could be revealing to us today. Jesus presents a bold new teaching and offers no explanations. It’s our problem to find the Truth that’s being revealed. The power of his preaching simply puts it out there and we are left to struggle with what he’s saying. We must slow down, reflect deeply and listen to  how it stirs up a 'kind of knowing' in our hearts. We will not get the meaning underlying his sayings until these words sink deeper into the mystery and paradox of great Love. 

 

Here are three requirements of discipleship to ponder well:  

-  “Whoever comes to me and does not hate their father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even their life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

 

At first, these sound like such harsh words to ‘attract’ followers to the way of Kingdom living. The force of the word ‘hate’ is Semitic in origin and must be understood that the message is ... we are “to love our fathersand mothers less” than we love the uncompromising Gospel of Jesus. There is a detachment of heart and a surrendering of the usual unquestioned values of our society that put 'me' first. Yet the promise of such renunciation is a life more fully human, personally fruitful and transforming of our home and world environments. When we feel called to a higher set of values that involves service not just to our immediate family, we must sit down and figure out what this choice is going to cost. Human loyalty and loyalty to God’s call can surely place us in some agonizing moments as this conversion and purification of heart transpires. Love unites.

 

- "Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

It seems that Luke alone uses the word ‘to carry’ which would seem to indicate that Luke sees discipleship as a very close following of Jesus in his sufferings and death. There will be an element of “counting the cost” in every invitation to enter the kingdom and to partake of the Messianic banquet. The message then is clear: the disciple of Jesus cannot act on impulse, but only on a carefully considered program of involvement. The involvement demanded of the disciple is that which will season the world as salt does food. Love heals. 

The following two parables deal with this sitting down to consider well the actions to be taken. Before building a house or going into war, the prudent person draws up a blueprint and depending on his resources, plans accordingly. Jesus comments to them and to us today - Reflect on what being a follower of mine is. Don’t follow me blindly. What is it going to cost you? Where are you vulnerable to the pressures of going along with the crowd? Think of the foundation required for this new building – your life - and consider well to what and to whom you are committing yourself.

 

- "Whoever does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.”

 

My, oh my, for us in our affluent First World, we can feel deeply threatened by this radical message. It’s a truth that shocks us to the core of our being. We value our possessions and are reluctant to renounce them or even detach from them as our ‘number one’ priority. We are left speechless when we contemplate the 'all'. We hardly know what we are going to do with this one. It’s time to sit down and consider what lies beneath this pull to possess. Listen to your heart where your ‘treasure’ lies. Engage in a conversation that matters as opposed to offering quick closure and smug answers. Resist any urge to dismiss these hard sayings altogether. The inner journey is just beginning in earnest. 

               

Let us pray this disciple’s prayer:  

Jesus, you call to my heart once more: 

Leave everything that holds you back from deeper love. Come follow me, again and again.”

Grant me the courage to leave behind whatever keeps me from you  and to trust you with my life.

May my heart’s connection with you be so strong and true that I will daily risk the road of following in your footsteps.

Keep me open to the adventure of life where I meet you day by day. 

Remind me often of my inner goodness. Help me to believe that you look upon me with love.

Thank you for the call to be your disciple. AMEN.

(from Joyce Rupp, out of the ordinary, p. 139)

 

  

 

Carrying Grace      The school of discipleship is now open … let the conversations begin!                                                          

 

Comments  

#3 arletteh 2010-09-08 13:52
Jesus calls us again and again to follow him.Just when I think it's time to coast for a while,or that i've got it figured out for now, there is that new call."Look at it from this perspective. Maybe you're seeing things in too narrow a way, your own way. Expand your vision!. Look where the fruits are appearing!" Thus Jesus says to me."Where I am , there is my servant also!" I ask for the Spirit of discernment. Thanks,Elizabet h- Angela, for keeping the conversation going, for advancing it, moving towards the more!
#2 Elizabeth-Angela 2010-09-07 17:26
This week's scripture reading impacts me deeply with the invitation of Jesus to discipleship which touches me in a stark and radical way. While I embrace simplicity of lifestyle, I still enjoy the comforts. So Jesus' invitation to discipleship mysteriously stirs me to walk the path towards spiritual growth amidst the depth in the giving of self towards the more. Because somehow when one gives of self to Jesus ... to God,we lose our life yet gain far more in transformative love and compassion. After pondering, I will give up "being comfortable" and say "yes to the journey of discipleship where Jesus beckons me."
#1 arletteh 2010-09-05 18:46
"Where the heart is---". The wells of the heart run so deep!They seem to deepen with our journey. And when we're thinking the journey of struggle must be coming to an end, the Spirit has gone deeper! And there are more depths to discover: good and also, dark depths."The journey has just begun! Consider well! Plan well!No impetuous launching into; no glib words;no ready answers: no sudden closures!We're moving into deeper love. Love unites! Love heals!Those must be the fruits.Immense gratitude again for these reflections, gifts of life!(thanks also for the solidarity re. the fall jitters!)

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