23rd Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time
Theme: Standing Firm in Self Denial
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139:1-3,13-15,16
Second Reading: Philemon 1:4-16
Gospel Reading: Luke 14:26-33
Homily by Fr. Jun Peñalosa
Membership is the common problem of the church in today’s society. There are plenty of members but only a few disciples. It’s almost like the church now has become a market place of Christianity, recruiting members and forming bigger groups to be in the society.
Discipleship should be the mission of the church. Like the early churches, they do not recruit members, they took disciples with them, and Father Jun believes that this is one of the reasons why churches now lose members because God wants us to see and go back to the real purpose of the church.
Church, when we go out, we sell Christianity to the world. But understand that we should not sell Christianity on a market price; we should not offer it for a cheap price. For though grace and salvation has been given to us for free, still it is not cheap, it is very costly for it was Christ who paid for it.
“Come, follow me” is today’s gospel summary. And to follow Christ is not cheap because you need to give also your own. We are all called to follow Christ. The call of God to follow Jesus is both a gift and a demand. As a gift, the call of God to follow Him is our salvation as well an invitation. When we follow Christ every day, we have peace and joy in our life – and it is a wonderful gift from God. The calling of God is also a demand for it requires our utmost loyalty.
Christ must be our top priority. Between families and friends and love ones, Christ must be above all; even our loyalties to ourselves, He must be the topmost! If we cannot take God above all from our families and loved ones as well our own life, then we cannot be His disciple. To be His disciple, He must be the utmost priority of our life; and that is what He demands from us.
The demand also requires us to carry our own cross daily. Cross doesn’t only mean burden or hardships. “To pick up and carry our own cross” could also mean a “place of decision” everyday because to follow Christ is not automatic; you have to decide…everyday. To become a disciple of Christ is not a game of chance; it is a decision you need to take on a daily basis. Like the crossroads you come across, you need to decide to turn left or right or move backward or forward. Same when choosing to be the disciple of God! “Many are called, but few are chosen”. Why? Because only few have made the decision to follow Christ.
Deuteronomy 30:15-19 reminds us of God, giving us the choice and the will to decide. To follow God is a deliberate decision, it should not be based on our emotions. It demands us to give our all. Discipleship would make you count the cost, and the cost would demand you of your every thing in life. Commitment is everything when you decide to follow Christ. You’ve got the willingness to give your all.
Lastly, Father Jun urged us as a Church, as we celebrate our 40th anniversary, to be committed to follow Christ. No one is turning back, no one is compromising to the left or right; just moving forward until we complete our journey, until the last breath of our life. Why? Because the call of Christ to follow Him is so precious, such a wonderful gift, but it demands our utmost loyalty and requires a deliberate decision to make daily. Choose life, Church!
MERCY DE LA CRUZ-ESPIRITU
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