23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 8, 2019

23C19.    Wisdom 9:13-18b.  The Book of Wisdom says: “For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.”  This earth offers many good things but we must always pay a price.  Often the goods of this earth cost more than the goodness they give us.  On the other hand, what our God gives us is worth more than anything this world can give.

Luke 14:25-33.   Jesus say in this gospel: “If anyone 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.”  And Jesus finishes with the words: “In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciples.” The word ‘hate’ should be understood as meaning renouncing anything or anyone as belonging to me, as my personal possession and not to God.  I believe what Jesus is in effect saying is that nothing and no one, not even our very selves, belong to us but only to God.  That is the cross and cost of being a follower of Jesus.  He is the Creator and the Maker.  Everything good, at its very root, comes from God and God alone.  He has not given us anyone or anything so that we can live in our world as the master and  sole owner.  What we have is on loan to use to make it all the better through the Holy Spirit working in us, ready to give it all back with the gain that we, with divine help, have achieved.  This world, our human nature and the devil demand that we see ourselves as being in charge and in possession, as it were, god of our own world.  To have God as truly God, it is all his.

Philemon 9:10, 12-17.  Tradition understands Onesimus, as someone who was of utmost usefulness to Paul, to be a runaway slave who fled his owner Philemon, without permission, to serve Paul.  Paul writes this epistle or letter to Philemon graciously requesting that Onesimus be welcomed back without punishment and be given his freedom to be received by Philemon as a brother Christian.  This reading carries through with the theme that all, at their very root, belongs to God and to no one else.  When we live on earth with this way of thinking then God will take us from this earth one day as his possession, as his child to be a part of his household in heaven..