November 7, 2018
by Tom Purcell
Creighton University's Heider College of Business
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 487

Philippians 2:12-18
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
Luke 14:25-33

Praying Ordinary Time

Imagine you were in the group of disciples when Jesus said the words in Luke’s excerpt for today.  How confused would you have been?  Imagine you turn to a companion and have this dialogue:

  • Jesus has always told us to love one another, that by our love people will know we are His disciples – now He says we must hate our family.  But how can we do that and still say we are His followers?
  • True, and He also said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with our whole heart and soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  So how can we love and hate at the same time?
  • Although He said hate, maybe He doesn’t mean hate – maybe he means something else.  At the end of His story He tells us to renounce our possessions.  Maybe that is a clue to help us understand what He means.
  • Can’t He ever just say what He means? 
  • Well, thinking and praying over and talking like this about what He said might help make the true meaning clearer for us.
  • Agreed, but what does He mean here today?  He did say before that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  Do you think that is part of what He means now?
  • I think so.  I don’t think He wants us to hate our families, nor give up all we own.  If we give up everything, how are we to live?
  • Didn’t He say that if we had true faith we would be able to give up all and still God will provide what we need.
  • True, but we do have to eat today . . . 
  • Maybe He is reminding us how hard it is for us to be His followers.
  • It is hard.  It would be hard to turn my back on my family.  They depend on me, and they are all I have in the world.  I am not rich, and I don’t own any property other than a few tools to do my work, and a few sheep and goats. 
  • Jesus knows that and yet He still says we must “renounce” all our possessions.  What does renounce mean?
  • I think it means that we have to let go, to give up our ownership.
  • Why would Jesus want us to let go, to give up our claims against our few insignificant possessions?
  • It seems that rich people seem pre-occupied with things and wealth and power.  It is hard for them to let go of their privileges and powers even if they desire to do the things Jesus calls us to do.  So perhaps for us family is the same as the rich people’s possessions.  We “possess” our family members when we are pre-occupied with family concerns the same the rich are with their possessions. 
  • So maybe He means we should learn to let go of our daily concerns, our concerns for family and friends, and be detached from all those worries so we can care for others and love as He does?
  • Sure, but if we are loving others as He does, aren’t we also loving our family and friends? 
  • Can’t He ever just say what He means?
  • I think He does in His prayer to the Father “give us this day” what we need.  I think we just aren’t always able to understand because we are too cluttered with our daily lives to see the bigger reality He lives.
  • It looks like the crowd is breaking up.  We will have to talk more of these things in a few days after we have had a chance to think some more.

As the conversation ends, my friend and I are perhaps more aware but still have uncertainty about what Jesus is calling us to do.

• • • • • •

And so my prayer for today is one of gratitude for being aware of the power that detachment provides in generously serving my unloved sisters and brothers, and also for the grace to balance detachment with my vocation to be a loving husband, grandfather and father for my family and friends.

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