Navarre Bible Commentary:
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bear.Cross.JustinPowersLuke 14:25-33

Conditions For Following Jesus
[25] Now great multitudes accompanied Him (Jesus); and He turned and said to them, [26] “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. [27] Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. [28] For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? [29] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, [30] saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ [31] Or what king, going to encounter another king in a war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? [32] And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. [33] So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

Catholic Exegesis:

The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).

St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).

Cited in the Catechism:

These passages are cited and explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1618 and 2544

Commentary:
26. These words of our Lord should not disconcert us. Love for God and for Jesus should have pride of place in our lives and we should keep away from anything which obstructs this love: “In this world let us love everyone,” St. Gregory the Great comments, “even though he be our enemy; but let us hate him who opposes us on our way to God, though he be our relative […]. We should then, love, our neighbor; we should have charity towards all — towards relative and towards strangers — but without separating ourselves from the love of God out of love for them” (In Evangelia Homiliae, 37, 3). In the last analysis, it is a matter of keeping the proper hierarchy of charity: God must take priority over everything.

This verse must be understood, therefore, in the context of all of our Lord’s teachings (cf. Luke 6:27-35). These are “hard words. True, ‘hate’ does not exactly express what Jesus meant. Yet He did put it very strongly, because He doesn’t just mean ‘loveless,’ as some people interpret it in an attempt to tone down the sentence. The force behind these vigorous words does not lie in their implying a negative or pitiless attitude, for the Jesus who is speaking here is none other than that Jesus who commands us to love others as we love ourselves and who gives up His life for mankind. These words indicate simply that we cannot be half-hearted when it comes to loving God. Christ’s words could be translated as ‘love more, love better’, in the sense that a selfish or partial love is not enough: we have to love others with the love of God” (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 97). See the notes on Matthew 10:34-37; Luke 2:49.

As the Second Vatican Council explains, Christians “strive to please God rather than men, always ready to abandon everything for Christ” (Vatican II, Apostolicam Actuositatem, 4).

27. Christ “by suffering for us not only gave us an example so that we might follow in His footsteps, but He also opened up a way. If we follow that way, life and death becomes holy and acquire a new meaning” (Vatican II, Gaudium Et Spes, 22).

The way the Christian follows is that of imitating Christ. We can follow Him only if we help Him bear His cross. We all have experience of suffering, and suffering leads to unhappiness unless it is accepted with a Christian outlook. The Cross is not a tragedy: it is God’s way of teaching us that through sin we can be sanctified, becoming one with Christ and winning Heaven as a reward. This is why it is so Christian to love pain: “Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain….Glorify pain!” (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 208).

28-35. Our Lord uses different examples to show that if mere human prudence means that a person should try to work out in advance the risks he may run, with all the more reason should a Christian embrace the cross voluntarily and generously, because there is no other way he can follow Jesus Christ. “‘Quia hic homo coepit aedificare et non potuit consummare! He started to build and was unable to finish!’ A sad commentary which, if you don’t want, need be made about you: for you possess everything necessary to crown the edifice of your sanctification — the grace of God and your own will.” (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 324).

33. Earlier our Lord spoke about “hating” one’s parents and one’s very life; now He equally vigorously requires us to be completely detached from possessions. This verse is a direct application of the two foregoing parables: just as a king is imprudent if he goes to war with an inadequate army, so anyone is foolish who thinks he can follow our Lord without renouncing all his possessions. This renunciation should really bite: our heart has to be unencumbered by anything material if we are able to follow in our Lord’s footsteps. The reason is, as He tells us later on, that it is impossible to “serve God and Mammon” (Luke 16:13). Not infrequently our Lord asks a person to practice total, voluntary poverty; and He asks everyone to practice genuine detachment and generosity in the use of material things. If a Christian has to be ready to give up even life itself, with all the more reason should he renounce possessions: If you are a man of God, you will seek to despise riches as intensely as men of the world seek to possess them” (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 633). See the note on Luke 12:33-34.

Besides, for a soul to become filled with God it must first be emptied of everything that could be an obstacle to God’s indwelling: “The doctrine that the Son of God came to teach was contempt for all things in order to receive as a reward the Spirit of God in himself. For, as long as the soul does not reject all things, it has no capacity to receive the Spirit of God in pure transformation” (St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 1, Chapter 5, 2).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” — St Jerome

About Don Gonzalez 1058 Articles

I am a cradle Catholic, wandered in the desert of sin for 20 years and returned into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2005. I am the founder of Joe Catholic, a lay apostolate designed by men for men. Our mission is to aid lay men in answering the universal call to holiness and equipping them to be the spiritual leaders of their families. Simply put, we help people learn, live and share their faith.

I recently completed my Masters in pastoral theology from Ave Maria University and work as the Magnet Program Coordinator at the Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet in Dallas.

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