23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time


By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

We are challenged this week by the notion of discipleship. At first glance it appears that discipleship requires us to turn against our family and even ourselves, but such an interpretation is not consistent with Jesus’ message of love for God and neighbor.

Rather discipleship begins with the naming of priorities. Who or what do we follow and to what extent? If you are reading this, I am sure you would profess the answer to this question is God, but do your actions support your claim?

Disciples must also understand the reason for their priorities. The Gospel uses a number of examples to explain the need for understanding the larger picture. If asked, I think most of us would say that we follow Jesus so that we may have eternal life and to avoid the pain of death and the eternal fire. And while this is not all together a bad reason, it will never allow us to understand the depth of our own potential.

The goal is enter into full relationship with God. It is not about reward, but relationship. It is not about fear, but about love.

Think for a moment about marital relationships. If you get married because you are afraid of pain or being alone, will it last? If you get married because the other offers some sort of reward for the relationship, will it last? In both cases, probably not.

My hope is that people get married because one person helps the other to realize that their potential is far greater than they would know otherwise, which leads to an inexhaustible joy that the other seems to call out of us. This is why marriage is a witness of the love of God for the Church, because this is exactly what a relationship with God does for each of us.

Jesus asks us to come after him – not his teachings, not the miracles – him. Nothing else matters except him. May we all live and love with such conviction to be so great a disciple.