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 Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 do the unimaginable. It was this spirit that made Jesus give up everything, including his own life for our sake. So, through this same spirit, we can become true his 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, this intention has been fully revealed in Christ who willingly sacrificed himself in order to save us. So, it is the spirit of wisdom that helps us to penetrate into 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 allowed him to return 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, he was admonished to receive Onesimus as a brother rather than as a slave.
Hence, Paul teaches us that we can equally sacrifice our own comfort in order to restore that of others. Also, we must be ready to make some sacrifices in order 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 true 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 simply teaches and call us to us to learn to make sacrifice, and to be committed to our missions and calls.
Christ is not literarily calling us to hate the members of our family in order to be his disciples. He loved and obeyed his own 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. Rather, he wants us to be more committed to his ministry. He wants us to be willing to sacrifice our own 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 Will. That is, being ready to give up anything. Without commitment and sacrifice, we remain attached to our will, and so, cannot be true disciples of Christ. Without it, we cannot see the needs of others.
Finally, commitment and sacrifice help us to give up anything in order 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!