Commitment And Self-Sacrifice
Readings: 1st: Wis 9, 13-18; Ps: 89, 3-6. 12-14; 2nd: Phlm 9, 10. 12-17; Gos: Lk 14, 25-33
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On this twenty-third Sunday of ordinary time, the church celebrates the spirit of commitment and self-sacrifice of Christ. The spirit of self-sacrifice motivates one to do the unimaginable. This spirit made Jesus give up everything, including his own life, for our sake. So, through this same spirit, we can become true disciples of Christ.
Today’s first reading draws our attention to the depth of the wisdom of God. He alone knows his intentions for humanity. However, God has fully revealed this intention in Christ, who sacrificed himself willingly to save us. So, it is the spirit of wisdom that helps us to penetrate the mystery of God’s intention revealed in Christ. In this way, this mystery becomes spirit and life for us.
In the second reading, Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon in the spirit of sacrifice. Although Paul needed Onesimus and had every right to retain him, he returned to his former master Philemon who equally needed him. Philemon also had to sacrifice something. He has to drop all his misgiving against Onesimus. So, Paul encouraged him to receive Onesimus as a brother rather than as a slave.
Hence, Paul teaches us that we can equally sacrifice our comfort in order to restore that of others. Also, we must be ready to make some sacrifices to repair and restore relationships. There is nothing we cannot sacrifice for the sake of God and humanity.
In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to imbibe his spirit of commitment and sacrifice in order to be his true disciples. He says, “If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife…and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple.” What does Christ mean by “hating”? He teaches and calls us to make a sacrifice and commit to our missions and calls.
Christ is not literarily calling us to hate the members of our family to be his disciples. He loved and obeyed his parents. Also, his mother, Mary, was one of His first and best disciples. So, we too must love members of our family. He is not in any way preaching the gospel of hatred. Instead, he wants us to be more committed to his ministry. He wants us to be willing to sacrifice our comfort whenever duty calls.
Maximilian Kolbe did this in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1941 by offering his life for a fellow prisoner so that he might live to take care of his family. Christ wants us to imbibe Paul’s spirit of sacrifice and commitment.
To be Christ’s disciple means being ready to make sacrifices. Carrying our cross and following Christ also means subduing our own will in order to do his. That is, to be prepared to give up anything. Without commitment and sacrifice, we remain attached to our will and cannot be faithful disciples of Christ. Without it, we cannot see the needs of others.
Finally, commitment and sacrifice help us to give up anything to gain all. It disposes us to be better disciples of Christ. It helps us to be better husbands, wives, parents, and children. It helps us to be better leaders and even servants. In the spirit of commitment and sacrifice, the wisdom of God becomes fully alive and active in us. It also helps us deepen our trust in God’s divine providence and protection. Hence, we can confidently proclaim: “O Lord, you have been my refuge from one generation to the next.”
Peace be with you all!