Twenty-Third Ordinary

The Introduction 

We are a society of planners. We’ve got calendars scrawled black and blue with appointments; smartphones in our pockets; magnets holding up lists all over the fridge. Our budgets tell us where the money’s gone to, and copious records are filed for the tax agent. I can tell you where I’m going to be and what I’ll be doing on most days a year from now! This can be a little intense.

Jesus has no dispute with careful schedules and records. But he wonders aloud that we take such care to plan dental appointments six months ahead, and show far less concern for responsibilities of discipleship. Which will last longer: our teeth or our souls? We know where our money’s invested and how much our next pay-packet will bring in, but what spiritual riches have we stored for ourselves? I know where I’ll be on Sunday a year from now. But where will I be when God’s kingdom comes?

How would you go about planning a spiritual budget for a year? For today?

Add these items to your spiritual budget: Weekly Eucharist. Regular personal prayer. Time with Scripture. Seasonal self-examination. Annual retreat time. A spiritual audit of what you do with your time and money.

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple”.

The Scripture (Luke 14: 25-28) The Cost of Being a Disciple

Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. For which of you intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and estimate the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it?”

The Reflection

I had two small children with a third on the way when I first encountered one of those articles estimating how much money it costs to raise a child. The numbers changed over the years, from a hundred thousand or so to about a quarter million. The figures were always so out of reach of my budget that they might as well have warned me I’d need thousands of dollars. It was clear that, like most people, I’d gotten into this family enterprise without really knowing what I was doing.

This week, Jesus cautions against just such a course. It’s foolish for us to dig foundations for a building if we haven’t calculated whether we can afford to finish it. Likewise, it is naive to think we can start on the Christian path with love in our heart and good intentions without giving some serious thought to what discipleship ultimately could cost all of us. Even as we take, and retake, our first steps in faith, it helps to accept that the journey will be long and sometimes difficult.

The Commissioning

We respond to God as we leave this place. Having heard God’s Word, encourage us to reflect and act.
Having seen the signs, give us confidence to follow.
Having sensed the truth, help us to be faithful.
Having encountered Jesus, lead us to discipleship.

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