Our
Fellowship

Our
Branch

AHC C Giving Up Everything Ord 23 - Hebrew Catholics

Association of

Hebrew Catholics

New Zealand Branch

Gving Up Everything

Ordinary 23     Year C

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

Click here for a printable copy of this paper

St. Luke 14: 25 — 33

 

Introduction

In this study, we come to the end of a series dealing with the qualities Jesus Messiah demands of those who follow him. Not unexpectedly, this passage of nine verses serves as a kind of ultimatum. But it is even more ― it is a call to the closest intimacy as His companions and co-workers.

Click here for a printable copy of the text

 

Some Reflections On Our Text

Verse 25

Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and
addressed them,

The passage opens with a transition verse 25, “Great crowds were travelling with Him …” to signify that what follows was not spoken to the people inside, or looking into the prominent Pharisee’s home (see beginning of chapter 14). The clause presumes that He had resumed His travelling after the meal at the house of the Pharisee. If it was still the Sabbath, He would not have travelled very far as He was a devout upholder of the Torah which limited the distance He could walk on that day.

It is very human for those who teach the Faith to delight in large numbers of people responding to their teaching and to feel despondent when the response is small. Our Lord, however, offers a different model. He makes demands of those who wish to follow Him, which have the effect of a most severe sifting process.

•     He teaches in a way that demands careful attention, even
       when His listeners are very tired.
•     He is uncompromising in what He requires, and can
       appear to be rather blunt at times.

On this occasion Jesus turns to the crowd and, instead of welcoming them, seems determined, at first appearances, to discourage them. But we need to remember that they were not following in a sense of accepting the teaching of Jesus, or obeying his precepts for holy living. They followed in the expectation of a kingdom about to be established in pomp, splendour, and power — in which they would share. Our Lord goes out of His way to remove any misunderstanding.

Verse 26

If any one 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.

The first uncompromising rule for anyone who would be a disciple of the Lord is that they must hate father, mother, wife, children, brother, sisters, and especially — self!

Yes, the word “hate” is a correct translation and should not be “watered down”. Notice we don’t have to hate friends, neighbours, or the local inhabitants — only our nearest and dearest — those whom we naturally love and for whom we would do anything we could to help them!

This last point provides a clue to unpack the obvious dilemma: how on earth can hatred be the basis of Christian discipleship?

Many reading these notes will be aware that in the Aramaic language there is no “comparative” (e.g. good, better, best; or little, less, least.) Therefore, since we are working from a translation of the Bible into English, we must acknowledge that although the translation is correct, it actually means:

“If anyone comes to me to be my disciple, they must love father,
mother, wife and children less than me.”

But even this takes us only part-way to Our Lord’s actual meaning. It is an Aramaic way of saying more correctly:

“You must love them in every way but you must love me
even more“.

This allows the followers of Jesus, paradoxically, to love Him above all else, without diminishing the love they naturally (and absolutely correctly) have for those whom God has given as their family. Note how Our Lord, in Semitic style, reinforces the absolute condition of loving one’s family as a pre-condition of entering His discipleship. In fact, the people listening to Jesus would, in their cultural setting, have heard it something like:

“You must love your father, mother, wife, children, and
whoever else you wish to include; but the demands they make
must not restrict your discipleship. You must be free to serve
me in the way I reveal to you.”

Here, Our Lord is taking up the teaching of Deuteronomy 33: 9 as demanded of the Levites of old:

“He says of his father and mother I have not seen them.
His brothers he does not know, nor does he know his children.”

This, then, is the real message. Yeshua, our Messiah, calls for dedication at this level, in order to prepare the foundations of the Kingdom of God. The terms apply until His Great Return at the end of time. The challenge at hand is vast but it is seen as a great privilege to be invited to join the Lord’s task force.

Verse 27

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.

Our Lord goes on to list a further condition of discipleship, and this one will take a lot of explaining!

There was no mistaking this requirement, although of course, its full import was not yet appreciated. Martyrdom by the cruelest of tortures was to be accepted as very possible, even probable. Up until the time of the Christian Emperor Constantine, if you were ordained to the clergy you could expect a violent and cruel death. The spiritual understanding of dying to one’s own self by accepting the will of God in all things developed later. For now, Jesus was signalling that those who would truly follow Him would pay for the honour. As it has turned out, this condition has continued to apply on a wide front ever since. The extensive and inhumane persecution of devout Christians throughout the world today ought to stir Christ’s members to much prayer and fasting. We are entering another phase of horrific persecution.

Verse 28 — 32

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.

Our Lord presents two parables to help His listeners make sound, reasoned decisions about whether to follow him as disciples rather than just on-lookers. They were parables — not allegories, and we must not assign symbolic meaning to each detail.

Is He saying it is better not to begin to be a disciple, and fail? A little time pondering these verses, strategically placed after sorting out the “not so sure”, will reveal that Jesus is hinting at calling disciples together for a major task. It cannot be taken on without reflecting on the real and full cost. It is no use acting on impulse; but only after careful consideration of all that is known so that a clear-cut decision can be made and adhered to.

The discerning will hear that He is calling for careful, conscious, yet generous acceptance of a great commission!

Verse 33

In the same way, everyone of you who does not
renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.

Readers of modern English will quite reasonably ask, “How can you do His work if you have nothing to do it with?” To add to the dilemma at this point we also need to know that the best scholarship tells us this condition is applicable to all disciples — St. Luke seems to make no distinction. Obviously it was to depend on circumstances.

Whilst the earlier conditions were at least clear to hearers, even if unpalatable, this one remained a mystery for many. It is an example of the kind of thing our Lord put forward for people to mull over and enquire about. Those who chose to follow, persevered and learnt what He meant. Others, less motivated, just quietly drifted off to other interests.

In truth, Jesus does not demand outright disposal of goods and possessions. What is necessary for discipleship is the yielding up of the right to ownership — the right to exercise direct control. Our Lord uses the present tense to imply a continuing attitude of detachment. So that remains something for us all to review in our own lives from time to time.

 

Conclusion

Jesus is not on about deprivation for its own sake:

•     detachment from loved ones
•     detachment from one’s own life
•     detachment from one’s own possessions.

That would be cold, inhuman, and showing a lack of appreciation for the good things of life.

Rather he is challenging those who hear his call in the depths of their being, to be grateful for all those things, yet not be held back by them from becoming more attached to Him. Those who are enabled by the Holy Spirit, to hear that inner call to follow Him, He implies, will not perceive His demands as unreasonable, but to be the very way He is opening before them. That is, they cease to be a barrier and become instead the door to LIFE.

The choice to enter by that door, and remain in that way will always be ours to accept or decline.

“Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and peace are with his holy ones,
and his care is with the elect.” (Wisdom 3: 9)

 

Shalom!

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource on
the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.
 
To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

 This website is highly recommended:
 

“Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature”

(Mark 16: 15)

Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so,
remain close to Him. The following are only examples illustrating how
you can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights for your on-going reflection.

Giving Up Everything

Ordinary 23     Year C          St. Luke 14: 25 — 33


1.   When we reflect on passages about discipleship, it quickly becomes apparent
that it is no casual matter. We are all free to accept Our Lord’s call into intimate
discipleship, or decline and direct our interests elsewhere. What He asks so
clearly, even forcefully, is that if we enter into His service, then we commit
ourselves on His terms. This demands very, very focussed attention to His
teaching, which comes to us via the Sacred Scriptures and their interpretation by
the Church.

2   One of the paradoxes, entering our Lord’s service is the standard of love required.
What can easily be overlooked is that, when we take the trouble to understand His
teaching properly, whilst we must give Him priority, we actually are required to love
our family very fully. That is overlooked by many who think that by concentrating on
the Lord they can (and, interpreting Our Lord superficially, should) give less thought
to their family or even forget them. Not so!

3   “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my
disciple.” So, being a disciple of Jesus Messiah will require a certain spiritual
robustness, perseverance and fortitude. Most wooden crosses look pretty much
the same — but no two spiritual crosses are ever identical. Our Lord calls us to
follow Him and carry our own cross, permitted by God to be shaped according to
the ministry He has in store for us, to meet the needs of Christ’s Body, the Church,
and to strengthen us where we are weak — all for the greater glory of God.

Let us pray for one another that those who choose to be disciples of the Lord will
be constant in the study and reflection on the Scriptures; and will observe His
ordinances faithfully.

Shalom!

 Click here for a printable copy of these Reflections

 

Luke 14: 25 — 33

Ordinary 23      Year C

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

25      6 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and 
          addressed them,

26      “If any one comes to me without hating his father 7 and mother,
          wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, 
          he cannot be my disciple.

27      Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot
          and my disciple.

28      Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down
          calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?

29      Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself 
          unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him

30      and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources
          to finish.’

31      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?

32      But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to
          ask for peace terms.

33      In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his
          possessions cannot be my disciple.”

6 [25-33] This collection of sayings, most of which are peculiar to Luke, focuses on the total dedication necessary for the disciple of Jesus. No attachment to family ( Luke 14:26) or possessions ( Luke 14:33) can stand in the way of the total commitment demanded of the disciple. Also, acceptance of the call to be a disciple demands readiness to accept persecution and suffering ( Luke 14:27) and a realistic assessment of the hardships and costs ( Luke 14:28-32).

7 [26] Hating his father . . . : cf the similar saying in Matthew 10:37. The disciple’s family must take second place to the absolute dedication involved in following Jesus (see also Luke 9:59-62).

     Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised
       edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine,
       Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner.
       All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced
       in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

 

 

 

[Site Under Construction]