A POCKETFUL OF SUNDAYS
When God calls us, we, like the would-be disciples in Luke's Gospel, often come up with delaying tactics:
* "Let me finish my studies"
* "Let me get my finances in order"
* "Let me take care of my health issues"
* "Let me sell my house"
* "Let me see my children through high school"
* "Let me make out a will"
* "Let me ... let me... let me..."
But God, it seems, doesn't like to be kept waiting. When God calls, we must be free enough to abandon projects, agendas, possessions, personal plans, and even our material "assets" so as to be "useful." When we are tied down by anything at all, however important, it stands in the way of our full and unconditional response to God's invitation
A Pocketful of Sundays
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- Have you ever experienced, hatred, hostility or ridicule on account of your Christian beliefs?
- Outside of your faith community, where do you see Christian values exemplified in society today?
- Have you witnessed so-called Christians using religion as a weapon of hate?
- How can the churches counter the rise of white supremacy and present a Christianity that is aligned with the teachings of Jesus rather than with the values of a violent, consumer society?
MY UPCOMING CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
I will be facilitating Lector Training & Formation at St. Pius V Parish, Pilsen, Wednesdays, September 18 & 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Call or email Mary Jane Vogt, 312-922-8205.
Imagery and Spiritual Awakening
Institute for Life Coach Training
Tele-course, Tuesday nights, October 15-November 26th, 2019. 5:00-6:30 pm CST
Day of Reflection: "Balancing Archetypes in Spiritual Direction"
Chicago Area Spiritual Directors (C.A.S.D.)
Thursday, November 7th, 2019. 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Carmelite Retreat Center, Darien, IL
Roz Camardella, email@example.com
With four courses to teach and papers still to grade, I am sending out
"as is," without my usual commentary.
I pray that those of you in the path of
stay safe and that all will be well.....
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding yourself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at you and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way,
if you do not renounce all your possessions you
cannot be my disciples.”
Jesus' words on discipleship are easier to understand if we read them in light of
The Parable of the Great Feast
(Lk 14:15-24) which immediately precedes today's Gospel. For some reason, the lectionary omits this parable and instead presents us with a list of Jesus' very difficult sayings on discipleship: that we should hate our closest relatives, despise our lives, take up our crosses, and renounce all our possessions. It is almost as though Jesus wants to push away anyone who may be half-hearted or who may lack commitment; in fact, this is precisely the point he makes in
The Parable of the Great Feast.
In this parable, a man invites many guests to a great dinner, but when the day comes, each of the guests has an excuse: one has just purchased a field, another has five new yoke of oxen and yet another has just got married. Enraged, the master of the house then instructs his servants to invite all the poor, the marginalized and those with physical infirmities to come to the feast instead. This, of course, takes us back to last Sunday's Gospel in which Jesus advised his host to invite those unable to repay him to his house instead of the wealthy.
But let's focus on the Gospel for September 8th. The imagery about constructing a tower or waging war against an enemy king have a common theme:
calculating the cost--
- in other words, are we prepared to pay the price of discipleship? In countries that have traditionally identified as predominantly Christian, this may seem like a strange question; "paying the price" was something that Christians had to do in places where the church was "underground" as in the former Soviet Union. There, and elsewhere, one might not only be discriminated against in terms of employment, housing, health care and education, but might also face imprisonment, torture, even death.
But the persecution of Christians is not a past tense reality. Today, the persecution of Christians continues in many nations, including Russia, China, Sri Lanka, India, North Korea, Nigeria and wherever they happen to be a minority; in 2017,
listed the following ten countries as the most dangerous places to be Christian: Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea, with North Korea topping the list.
n the last year there have been:
- Over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
- 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
- 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked
- 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned
Clearly, Christians living in nations hostile to religion in general or to Christianity specifically have to weigh the cost of their faith and whether they are willing to pay the price. But this cost assessment is something each of us needs to do, regardless of where we live. The reality is that we are living in a post-Christian world in which secular values dominate and in which Jesus himself has been commercialized, co-opted by the establishment and used to justify every form of hatred from attacks on the LGBTQ community to anti-immigrant rhetoric. Take, for example, the inter-racial couple that was recently unable to book the venue they wanted for their wedding because the venue claimed that inter-marriage was contrary to their "Christian beliefs." Or, more disturbing still, take those whose version of Christianity forges them into white supremacists who believe that violence against certain populations is justified. The Christianity arising in America today seems to have left the Gospel Jesus behind, embracing a parody of who he was historically. The time is not only coming but is already here when advocating for social justice will not only be seen as unpatriotic but also un-Christian.
Are we ready to pay the price?