04 September 2022 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

By Fr Francis Anthony

Wisdom 9:13-18
Psalm 89(90):3-6,12-14,17
Philemon (-10,12-17
Luke 14:25-33

Theme: Voice of Creation

Today’s readings puzzles us. I’m referring to the Gospel text.

‘Unless you hate your father, your mother, your wife, your husband, your children, you cannot be my disciple’.

This is if you just read out of the context and it is very challenging for us to be Christian. I love God and I hate all those family members who are close to me. Yes, in the translation, that is what is said. But if you read through the Sematic language/idioms here, unless you hate, it is not saying you hate. It is saying see how much love you give to your family members. and that should be the criteria for you to love me, if not more.

If you say you love your husband, your wife, your mother, your children, that should be the level, a standard. And it is all of us, how can I show I love my God whom I do not see? Yes, but if my turning towards Him should be measured by the way I love my family members, and so the challenge is on both sides. You love God the way you love your family members. And what happens? Those who do not love their family members? Know there are many broken families. And it is a time to check what is my human relationship.

My human relationship is a challenge for all of us. Saying ‘I love God‘ is very easy but to show that love by my dealings with those around me.

And the loving God, well we didn’t have this Entrance Antiphon, we had a hymn, it goes like this, addressing to God, it is from Psalm:-

You are just, O God, and your judgment is right.

So it is a level of judging and we just simply hope that God’s judgment is fair and so forth. But in the next line:-

Treat your servant in accord with your merciful love.

And if you say in the realm of judgment, many of us would be defaulted. And the psalm here says ‘treat your servant‘, treat all of us in accordance with Your merciful love. Yes, it is the merciful love of God which has made us to be what we are. It is love. It is not just judgment but His merciful love.

And the prayer of the day, it goes like this:-

We are redeemed and receive adoption.

We are redeemed due to that merciful love and that redemption has made us to be your adopted children. And let us ask God if this is what it is, then how am I turning to God?

And the First Reading puts us to our ignorance. And the text goes:-

What man can know the intentions of God?

It is the plan of God. Who are we to be able to say I understand God fully? I know I read through all the lines of the scriptures. But it is saying ‘Who can define the will of God?‘ We are not able to even in earthly things we are not able to fathom and to understand it complete. And we want to know what is above, what is God, what is God’s dealing, what is God’s love?

And so the First Reading from the book of Wisdom is telling us we are humans. We are not able to comprehend and let us acknowledge our ignorance. If not we will say ‘No I want to fully understand the mystery of God.‘ We cannot. You have only got one drop of water and you want that to be a mighty ocean. Cannot. That drop of water remains a drop and it never turned into a mighty ocean. And that is our human thinking. And that is our human way of trying to understand that infinite. We would never be able to understand that infinite. It is the First Reading here itself shows us how fragile we are.

The Second Reading is on the human level. From Paul. He’s sending back his servant Onesimus to Philomen and tells him, ‘Accept him‘ (because there was a friction between Onesimus and Philemon and he ran away). ‘Accept him not as a slave but as a brethren.‘ That forgiving that should be in him.

So, my dear friends, in today’s readings, we are told how limited we are. As we all saw in the First Reading whether your love of God can be measured according to your standard. And in the First Reading, we are saved. We are not able to fathom but the wisdom of God is there and He is giving us the strength. I wouldn’t understand Him but He forgives me by His merciful love.

With this in mind, let us ask ourselves how am I cooperating with God? Yes, do not think we are becoming presumptuous. Cooperating with God’s plan for the wellbeing of the whole world. God created and everything was good and we, it is our role when God said to Adam and Eve – dominate, take charge of this creation, He has put that to us, it is our responsibility to be able to sustain God’s creation by our minute efforts.

We have to have a share, each one. And it is becoming very blatantly clear – our carelessness, our selfishness, our wanting to advance in ideology and science, we are destroying creation. Here is the time for us to hold back.

I am not a great scientist. I don’t follow the great American space race. Something is telling they wanted to launch the biggest rocket there ever was and that rocket will send a capsule that can go round the moon and to be able to see what it was at the back. They wanted to launch it last Monday and something happened and they could not do it. They were suppose to blast off on Saturday or Friday for us, again something defective and they could not blast it out.

I was just telling myself, millions are suffering in Pakistan, without knowing the number in Afghanistan and also the people suffering in California because of the forest fires. Let us have priority. The whole world to come to make our earth a place, a heaven on earth. And that is our responsibility. Let us not ‘they take care, they take care’ no.

It is our responsibility to make our world heaven on earth.

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