Liturgy of the Sunday

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Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Feast of the nativity of Mary, Mother of the Lord. Today the Franciscan tradition remembers Francis' visit of peace to Damietta to speak with the sultan Malek-al-Kamel. Prayer so that workers of peace and dialogue may arise.

First Reading

Wisdom 9,13-18

'What human being indeed can know the intentions of God? And who can comprehend the will of the Lord? For the reasoning of mortals is inadequate, our attitudes of mind unstable; for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the mind with its many cares. It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who, then, can discover what is in the heavens? And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and people have been taught what pleases you, and have been saved, by Wisdom.'


Psalm 89


May the favour of the Lord rest upon us.

O Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to the next.

Before the mountains were born
or the earth or the world brought forth,
you are God, without beginning or end.

You turn men back into dust
and say: 'Go back, sons of men'

To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
no more than a watch in the night.

You sweep men away like a dream
like grass which springs up in the morning.

In the morning it springs up and flowers;
by evening it withers and fades.

So we are destroyed in your anger
struck with terror in your fury.

Our guilt lies open before you;
our secrets in the light of your face.

All our days pass away in your anger.
Our life is over like a sigh.

Our span is seventy years
or eighty for those who are strong.

And most of these are emptiness and pain.
They pass swiftly and we are gone.

Who understands the power of your anger
and fears the strength of your fury?

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.

Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.

Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.

Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.

Second Reading

Philemon 1,9-10.12-17

I am rather appealing to your love, being what I am, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you -- that is to say, sending you my own heart. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the gospel has brought me. However, I did not want to do anything without your consent; it would have been forcing your act of kindness, which should be spontaneous. I suppose you have been deprived of Onesimus for a time, merely so that you could have him back for ever, no longer as a slave, but something much better than a slave, a dear brother; especially dear to me, but how much more to you, both on the natural plane and in the Lord. So if you grant me any fellowship with yourself, welcome him as you would me;

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 14,25-33

Great crowds accompanied him on his way and he turned and spoke to them. 'Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple. No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple. 'And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying, "Here is someone who started to build and was unable to finish." Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who was advancing against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


Jesus had just left the house of one of the leading Pharisees, where he had attended a banquet filled with cutting and decisive words. He was continuing on his way, followed by a large crowd. When he realized that so many people were following him, Jesus "turned" to look at them. This is not just an idle narrative detail. In that "turning" is all of Jesus' passion for the people. How many times had he told those who followed him that he had not come for himself, but for them! And ever since then, Jesus has not stopped "turning" towards the tired and exhausted crowds of this world: the crowds of yesterday and those of today. And we are among them.
Every time the Gospel is announced to us, but particularly during the Sunday Liturgy, Jesus' "turning" is made real again. Jesus' words are spoken for us; they are proclaimed so that they might reach and move our heart. Jesus' "turning" is serious, just as serious as his love. Jesus took on our cause so intensely that he gave his very life for us. But he demands that we be just as serious in following him: "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:26). These are the conditions necessary for following Jesus. No other part of the Gospel speaks so seriously about following. Unlike the analogous passage in Matthew (10:37), Luke gives a detailed list of the different family relationships - it seems as though he does not want to leave anyone out. And they all stand under the shocking word "hate." Jesus is saying that to be his disciple, it is not enough to follow him physically and make some sacrifices. We have to make a clean break with all our ties to the past, to the point of "hating" our fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, brothers, sisters, and even ourselves! Jesus' demands are, and remain, extremely hard, because they are demanding. Jesus and the kingdom of God demand that we wipe away all the ways in which we have ordered our lives up until now and create new ones. All of our relationships, including our relationships with our family, need to be reborn from our radical choice for Jesus. Those who would like to love Jesus in the same way as they love other people will end up not loving either one very seriously. At the heart of this passage is the radical choice for the Lord. The following verse clarifies this further, "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (v. 27). Jesus speaks these words as he walks towards Jerusalem, the very place where the cross is waiting for him.
And so "following Jesus means taking part in his destiny, being one thing with him. It is not an easy thing that can be had at little cost. If we want to take this journey, we have to think about it carefully and weigh all of our choices. Jesus clarifies this with two examples taken from daily life. A man who wants to build a tower carefully determines if his funds will be sufficient to complete the job; in the same way, before going to war, a king calculates whether his forces will be able to defeat the enemy: if they cannot he will negotiate for peace before it is too late. But we are not talking about making calculations here, as if there were any option other than following the Lord. Quite the contrary, Jesus concludes by affirming, "So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions" (Lk 14:33). It seems as though the only calculation to make is to give up everything to follow Jesus and be his disciple.