St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
Weekend Masses: Saturday- 5:00pm
Sunday- 7:30am; 9:00am (children's liturgy); 10:30am
Daily Mass is at 8:15am on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Friday (no Mass on Wednesday)
Reconciliation: Saturday from 3:30-4:30pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9am to 4:30pm; Fri 9-12:00pm
An Introduction to the Scripture Readings for
the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
“Anyone Who Does Not Renounce All His Possessions
Cannot Be My Disciple”

This Sunday's scripture readings ask us to consider the cost of true discipleship. Like a builder before starting work, we should consider the cost and the resources needed for that task. Our first reading gives us a glimpse into one of the resources available to us—the Wisdom of God.

In our first reading 
(Wisdom 9:13-18), we hear about the unfathomable wisdom of God. It is an excerpt from “Solomon’s Prayer” wherein Solomon asked God to “Give me wisdom”. He knows that even the things of this world are little understood. And yet, the things of God are so much more beyond our understanding. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we discern any of it. This reading helps set the tone for our Gospel reading; this is the supreme God whom Jesus tells us must be before all else. 

Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?  For the deliberations of mortals are timid,  and unsure are our plans.  For the corruptible body burdens the soul  and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.  And scarce do we guess the things on earth,  and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;  but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?  Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom  and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

In our Epistle reading from the Letter of St. Paul to Philemon 
(9-10, 12-17), St. Paul gives us an example of the cost of discipleship. Paul is writing from his “imprisonment for the Gospel” in a Roman jail. Paul sends Onesimus, a former runaway slave, back to his master Philemon. Baptized, Onesimus is now "more than a slave, a brother" in Christ.

I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment; I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary. Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

In our Gospel reading 
(Luke 14:25-33), Jesus cautioned the crowds following him to consider the cost of discipleship before following him. It is not for the weak of heart. Jesus outlined three requirements of discipleship.  The first is that Jesus must come before everyone else in our lives—even our own family. Jesus used the words “hate” one’s family in the Hebrew context that more closely means “to love less”—we must love Jesus more than everyone else. The second requirement is that we must take up our cross and walk the walk that Jesus walks, bearing our suffering in union with his. The third is complete detachment - from all our possessions and worldly desires. They become an anchor weighing us down and keeping us from Jesus.

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Imagine telling God, “I’m sorry God, but my family comes before you” - or my wealth or my possessions or my hopes and dreams or desires. What Jesus may really be telling us is, whomever you love, love me more; whatever you love, detach yourself and love me more. As we see in our first reading, with the gift wisdom from the Holy Spirit, "thus were the paths of those on earth made straight."