Requirements for being a disciple of Jesus Christ according to Luke:
• Hate your family
• Hate life itself
• Pick up your cross
• Renounce all of your possessions
Who would sign up for such a thing?
Our Gospel this week has Luke’s Jesus continuing to lay down some unbelievable criteria for his followers. Such stern challenging messages have been prevalent in the past several weeks. It is one of the major themes of Luke’s Gospel – discipleship requires giving things up.
As always, some context is helpful. Our first reading from the book of Wisdom begins, “Who can know God’s counsel or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” It then goes on to say, “…but when things are in heaven who can search them out?”
The disciple message of Jesus is almost impossible to fathom or understand, much less actually do. Even the book named as Wisdom is scarce in advice on how to actually comprehend a spiritual message for an earthly calling of discipleship, however the rest of the Gospel parable does give us some insight; unless we are sure we can finish a job, don’t start it. Access the resources you have before you start a project, or even a battle, that you intend to win. Some of the most inspiring sports stories are those about a victorious team that had no chance of winning, but somehow they did. (2004 Boston Red Sox winning over the New York Yankees after being down 3-0 in the best of 7 American League Championship series; the 1980 US men’s hockey team who defeated Russia and ultimately won the gold medal; the 1985 Villanova men’s basketball team vs. Georgetown in the championship game, to name a few. There are many more, including David defeating Goliath). If these underdog teams and individuals would have followed the criteria and process for discipleship laid out by Jesus, they never would have started the battle, and thus never would have gained the miraculous nature and inspiration that they hold in our culture and our hearts, hearts that love a good underdog story.
Spiritually, the goal for all of us Christian people should be attaining eternal life. The challenge of Jesus seems to fly in the face of a part of our culture that awards a trophy to all participants.
The message of Jesus challenges us all to identify many goals in many walks of life, but most importantly, the ultimate goal we are seeking. If that goal is eternal life, it has earthly, physical, heavenly and spiritual dimensions. So, what is your ultimate goal? I suggest setting some others along the way that will help to attain the ultimate one.
In the midst of these Gospel challenges, I suggested last week that we practice a profound spiritual exercise: listening. Most of us think we are good listeners. Jack Zengler and Joe Folkman wrote an article that appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 2016 entitled “What Great Listeners Actually Do.” They reviewed some conventional criteria for good listening, including not talking when someone else is, providing verbal feedback to a speaker, such as saying “hmm,” “uh huh” and non-verbals such as nodding your head and then being able to repeat what the speaker says word for word.
But they go on to indicate that great listeners are not simply silent – they ask questions. They provide positive reinforcement to the speaker that bolsters their self-esteem, they cooperate and encourage the transactional (my word) mutual flow of feedback and thus avoid the classic mistake of formulating a response or a point to be made before the speaker is finished speaking. Finally, they offer suggestions. Healthy suggestions are born out of great, authentic listening. Listening is an essential component of a healthy prayer life.
I would like to share some news and points of interest from our community. 10 of 11 families who came regularly to PADS last year were placed in more permanent housing due to our coordination and collaboration with other social service agencies. We averaged 25 guests for Summer Suppers over the past three months. Bible Journey, a staple of the quality adult scripture study offered here at Holy Family, begins the first week of October on Wednesday mornings with our neighbor, Fr. Joji, leading. Our next adult Beloved Retreat is November 1-3. A few spots are available, but not many. Sign up by contacting Adult Faith. Our annual All Souls’ Mass will be offered on Saturday November 2 at 7:00pm. This is a prayerful Mass to remember all of the deceased, particularly those who have passed away in the past year.
Our Family Faith registration continues for all grades. Faith class registration can be done online or at the front office. This serves as a particular reminder for families of students from grades 7-9. We are in need of Catechists for Sunday morning and evening classes as well as Wednesday afternoons. One teen Faith Catechist is needed for a one year only commitment in our high school program Flame. Please contact Grant Guthrie or Laura Ferlita in the Faith office, or encourage a qualified fellow parishioner to contact them.
Kid Kare, a new initiative for children aged 1-4 begins October 6 and will be available on the first and third Sundays from 8:30-10:30am on non-Kid Church weekends. Children will be cared for in the preschool classroom near Breakout 1 (not the old nursery) during the 9:00am Mass.