23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 7-8, 2019
In order to make sense of today’s readings, we need to call to mind our Baptism and Confirmation. In those moments we literally ‘put on the mind and heart of Christ Jesus and became his disciples. We approach today’s readings by reminding ourselves that we are God’s beloved ones and like Jesus are to be the face of God in our world. Today we are challenged to look at the quality of our discipleship. The cost of discipleship is to walk a narrow path -an all or nothing proposition. The journey of discipleship comprises countless small steps in the right direction and with the right motives.
In the first reading from Wisdom, we are encouraged with the knowledge that we are not left alone to falter on our way. Knowing both our talents and our limitations, God sends the Holy Spirit so we can “trust” that our paths will be made straight. In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul could have made bold and sweeping statements condemning slavery. But Paul chooses to challenge Philemon to take small steps. He implores Philemon to take back the runaway slave (Onesimus) “as a brother, beloved to me and the Lord.” Little steps, like accepting and loving him as a brother rather than a slave would eventually lead to the abolition of slavery. We and our world need to repeat and implement Paul’s instruction – accepting all as our beloved brother/sister until all are treated with human respect and dignity.
In the Gospel, we are challenged to consider the cost and consequences of making Christ the first and primary priority in our lives. Do we have what it takes to be a disciple and see the journey through to the end? Most likely left to our devices, our answer would be a negative one. Yet we are not alone. With our God’s grace, with Jesus’ constant presence and guidance in the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to take one step at a time. We can keep our priorities straight, keeping uppermost, in mind and heart, the claim of Jesus on our lives. One step, one day at a time.