Homily Twenty-third Sunday Year C Discipleship

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Homily Twenty-Third Sunday Year C

Reading 1: Who can know the mind of God? God is perfect; we are imperfect. God is uncreated Spirit; we are created body and spirit. Our body is corruptible; God is incorruptible. Because of sin we struggle to know and do the right things. We are still trying to understand the material things around us. We make a break through and there is another mystery of creation, confronting and challenging us.

We try to understand and fathom what is totally beyond us: the mind of God. We come to a blank wall. Why? Because our minds are limited. God wants us to perceive what is true and what is for our good, leading us to him. To do this God gives us a wisdom, the gift of the Holy Spirit, to glimpse into the mystery of God, the mystery of eternity, the mystery of God’s unconditional love. This gift enables us, not on our own but through the grace of God, to see as God perceives into a particular situation. But we still scratch only the surface.  God reveals his plan to us, but only to the extent we can embrace it in faith, hope and love.

Gospel: The first reading recognizes that we need God’s wisdom to know God’s plan for us. Jesus speaks that word of wisdom in the Gospel. He speaks of the centrality of God in our lives, a centrality lived in doing the will of God, even it if means embracing a particular cross in our daily life. But Jesus goes further. He says we shouldn’t begin this journey of relationship with God unless we really intend to complete the process.

How many people want a relationship with God, maybe for the wrong reason? They are unwilling to pay the price, to live the life, to embrace his will. There is a difference between falling short but continuing to try and between going through the motions externally while internally choosing to be far away from a deeper relationship. What is this deeper commitment? Full discipleship!

Discipleship is a radical following of Jesus. Central to this relationship with Jesus are three things: the Lordship of Jesus, obedience to the will of God even to the death of the self, and doing all of this out of love.

What does the Lordship of Jesus means? It means that nothing and no one is to be more important to the disciple than Jesus. It is the only relationship that will last in eternity. One of the questions we will be asked at the time of our death is the question Jesus asked the disciples. “Who do you say I am?” Even though Peter said the right words initially, it wasn’t until after the resurrection that he could say with understanding and love that Jesus is both Lord and Messiah.

For Jesus to be the Lord of our lives in fact as well as in faith, we center our whole lives on him, on the will of the Father. We choose to do so simply to return love for love.

Reading 2: Philemon is a convert of Paul. One of Philemon’s slaves ran away. He found Paul in another community in prison. Paul converts him with the truth of the Gospel. Paul becomes a spiritual father to Onesimus through the waters of baptism. Paul sees him now as a son, a brother and a slave of Christ.

By law, Onesimus was the property of Philemon. So Paul asks the former to go back to Philemon to give him the opportunity to practice his new faith by receiving him back as a brother in Christ. In other words, Onesimus belonged to Christ more than he belong to Philemon.

Paul believed the love of Christ was stronger than anything else and that this love would bring forth a new and stronger relationship between Philemon and Onesimus. Paul based this on the love Philemon professed for Paul and the debt he owed Paul for setting him free to experience God’s love for him. Each was able to do this because of the Lordship of Jesus.

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