09 September 2007

FOLLOWING THE BROAD SHADOW OF THE MASTER

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 14:25-33


His mother advised him: “Whatever you say, say nothing.” However, Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, did not heed his mother’s advice. Reflecting on his relationship with his father who was a quiet farmer, Heaney wrote how his father’s silence was a constant challenge for a son who wished to know him more and be closer to him. In his poem entitled, Follow, Heaney wrote:

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

That son started trying to follow the footsteps of the father, but he realized later on that, because their skills were different, their harvests were not the same: potatoes for his father, poems for the son. Truly, very different! Nonetheless, despite the great difference between their skills, their roots kept them attached to each other. It is correct to say, indeed, that no matter how close to each other, each one has to figure out for himself or herself his or her own vocation in life.

In our first reading today, the author of the book of Wisdom keeps our eyes open to the truth that it should not surprise us to find how difficult it is for us to grasp the mind of God because just to understand one another is already hard for us. In fact, sometimes we fail to understand our selves too. While the author of the book of Wisdom talks to God, he actually address himself to us when he says, “For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.”

In the second reading today, we have part of the letter of St. Paul the Apostle to a man named Philemon. Whoever wishes to understand the contents of this letter needs to know its context. From Jerusalem, where he was arrested, Paul – because of his dual citizenship – demanded that he be tried in Rome by the Roman curia. Upon disembarking in Rome, Paul was immediately put under house arrest. What we read today in the liturgy is the part of Paul’s letter where he figured out how to send back a runaway slave to its Christian master. The Christian master was Philemon while the runaway slave was Onesimus. When Onesimus ran away from his master, he met Paul and was converted into Christianity. Thus, the former slave was returning to his former master as a brother already. The words of Paul were carefully written from the heart: “I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, urge you on behalf of my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment; I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. Perhaps, this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So, if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.” Pulling some strings, Paul, though imprisoned, set his love into action to set free one who was formerly imprisoned by slavery.

Indeed, our readings today have many figuring out to do. Even in the gospel, Jesus advises us to think really carefully. The demands of following Him are difficult. While Christian discipleship absolutely does not mean going around wearing long faces, it is also certainly not a laughing matter. Thus, anyone who wishes to truly follow Jesus must first carefully figure out over and over again the cost of Christian discipleship. He or she must also consider well if he or she has the resources to meet the cost of following Jesus.

To underline the value of His advice, Jesus gives us a pair of parables today. whoever plans to build a tower must fist sit down and calculate if he has enough resources to spend because if he has none and has started to build nonetheless, the tower of his dreams will be nothing but a colossal monument to his stupidity. In the same way, the king who discovers that his forces are outnumbered by his enemies must also first sit down and discern if he will attack or detract. In this pair of parables, the wise advise given to us is as clear as the sun: sit down, pause, do not rush, study the cost, reflect on the demands, discern well.

In essence, Jesus’ advise to us and to all His followers is simple and practical. The difficulty lies in accepting the result of what we must do, most especially if the result is contrary to what we expect if not totally unfamiliar. Worries about inordinate self-preservation and illusions of earthly grandeur have no part in Christian discipleship. There is no security in Christian discipleship, except in the total commitment of the self to Jesus. In the life of every Christian, Jesus must never have a competition. Between following the footsteps of Jesus or following the footsteps of one’s own father, the Christian must, without any doubt, choose to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Christian discipleship is following the broad shadow of a Master who traveled through a life of loving, carrying a cross over his shoulder. And not one us can do that casually.

2 Comments:

At 8:13 PM , Blogger Cy said...

Thank you for your prayers to me and to my family! We are praying for you always.

 
At 9:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOOD DAY,
HI FATHERBOB WHAT A VERY GREAT REFLECTION YOU'VE MADE.HELLO AGAIN HOW'S YOUR DAY,ME IT WAS VERY GREAT.ARE YOU STILL A TEACHER CAUSE I TRULY WANT YOU TO BE MY TEACHER.COULD YOU ADD ME IN YOUR EMAIL ADD,AND I'LL ALSO ADD YOU THANKS IN valor_28 THIS IS MY EMAIL ADD THANKS AGAIN.DONT WORRY IM NOT A STOKER IM ALSO A CHURCH WORKER IN GUADALUPE CHURCH.
WISH YOU'LL ADD ME AND COULD I ALSO KNOW YOUR EMAIL ADD
THAKS

 

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