A scholarly attempt at an interpretation of Sunday's liturgical readings.

Decisions, decisions…

How good are you at decision making?  Does the choice depend upon the types of challenges facing you?  Or is the dependency based on motivation?  That is, will people be affected positively or negatively by my choice?

In Luke’s Gospel (14:25-33), Jesus is still “on the road” to Jerusalem about to make another stop–which means another message.  This message is about decision making.  Jesus asks the folks present, in effect, “Do you want to be my disciple under the following conditions?”  Most likely, the people were impressed with the works of Jesus and undoubtedly apppreciated his style.  Who wouldn’t want to be a disciple?  But the conditions raised serious reflections.  What were they?

First, the willingness to leave strong family ties.  Family ties were very strong, so one had to think seriously before challenging them.

Second, the willingness to face radical self-denial by carrying one’s cross and follow Jesus.   It meant asking for some kind of trust during moments of fear, frustration, panic, and pain.  Bad things happen, and one often does not know what to do or where to go.

Third, the willingness to give up personal possessions, especially if they are obstacles to ministry.  These are three difficult conditions for Christian discipleship.  But what do they really mean?

The first condition has to do with family (and friends as well).  The fact is that sometimes families don’t understand your ministry in helping others, namely, by doing justice, being compassionate,  and displaying forgiveness,  Apparently, they seem to operate from a different value system.  Consequently ,our choice  becomes quite difficult if we want to keep our family happy.

The second condition has to do with the self.  The reality is that we do have to experience pain, sorrow, frustration on a regular basis.  It is good to know that with faith and hope we believe that after Jesus’ pain and death there was a resurrection.  We hope that we will have one also.

The third condition has to do with things.  Consumerism can be a deadly vice in that it becomes necessary for us to have the latest gadget, regardless of price, so that our waking moments become ones of living up to the advertisements.  Francis of Assisi gave up material possessions because they were in the way of fulfilling his ministry to others.

What can we learn from the above biblical reading?  Several things, but especially the conscious choice to become effective disciples of Jesus.  What does that mean?  We know, in fact, that it is not an easy  decision to make.  Jesus himself recommended several criteria in order to be an effective disciple, namely, some regarding family, self, and things.

In prayer, which is nothing more than conversation with God, we ask for help in making the right choice, particularly in humility.  Remember that humility is really telling  the truth about oneself, both the gifts and the limitations.  With that in mind, the choice would be difficult but, quite likely, positively effective.


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