Scripture Reflection: Luke 14:25-33 - 23rd Sunday, Ordinary Time

Following the Lord offers priceless treasure – more than we can fathom - that's worth giving up everything else for, including our own life. He is offering true happiness, peace, and joy unending with the everlasting Father in his heavenly kingdom. Jesus was utterly honest and spared no words to tell his disciples that it would cost them dearly to follow after him.  To gain all, one must be willing to give all.  There can be no room for compromise with God.  We either give our lives over to him completely or we keep them for ourselves.  

We were redeemed from our sins with a price. That price is the blood of Jesus shed for us on the cross. So, I have no reason not to offer my life in service to God. 

Jesus said we must "hate" our families and even ourselves. That does not literally mean "to hate our families and our own life." It only means to "prefer less".  Personally, I used to be present in the life of my family and friends, to be present in every special event of their lives. But now it’s different. It was my mother’s birthday the other day and I was not with her. Last month we had family reunion and I was not with them. My lifetime friends, outside, sometimes invite me for a chat over a cup of coffee or ask me for help with something and I cannot give them generous time anymore.

Jesus used strong language to make clear that nothing should take first place in our lives over God. Jesus knew that the way of the cross was the Father's way to glory and victory over sin and death.  He counted the cost and said "yes" to his Father's will.  We, too, must "count the cost" and be ready to follow Jesus in the way of the cross if we want to share in his glory and victory.  What is the "way of the cross" for you and for me?  When my will crosses with God's will, then his will must be done.  The way of the cross involves sacrifice, the sacrifice of laying down my life each and every day for Jesus' sake.  

What makes such sacrifice possible and "sweet" for us is the love of God poured out for us in the blood of Jesus Christ; His Love that I am miraculously experiencing, most especially when I am at RICA. One Friday, after the meditation sit at Regina Rica a sitter approached and hugged me and said “Sister when I look at you it is as if I am seeing Mama Mary. Looking at you makes me happy. I am praying for you and can’t wait to see you in a habit.” For me that was my miracle for that day. I am nothing compared to our Lady but the words of that sitter gave me strength and inspired me to persevere in following our Lord. 

The very first time that I gave orientation at Sulod: after my orientation a pilgrim approached me and – teary eyed – asked to pray for her daughter who wants to have a child. Her daughter and son in law are both in Australia and she said she will let them visit our Lady when they come here in the Philippines. That incident made me feel the divine responsibility that in store for me and the feeling not to disappoint her. 

Every Tuesday, my experience with the children of our K-Friends makes me feel that I am needed in the service for our Lord and I have to do something to let our unfortunate brethren experience God.

Paul the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). We can never out give God.  He always gives us more than we can expect or imagine if we can only allow the Holy Spirit to fill our heart with the love of God.

The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first.  Jesus' way to glory and power is opposite the world's way of glory and power. Jesus is telling us to finish what we have started so that the people will not mock us. I’m sure if I will not continue with my vocation my family and friends will not laugh at me. They will happily accept me back with understanding. But I chose to stay with the Lord. It is not easy but I know that he will not leave me alone if I choose to follow him.   His love compels me to put Him first in all I do. His love will consume me and transform my life so that I will truly desire nothing more than a life with him. I know he will help me count the cost and to joyfully embrace my daily cross for his sake.

Irene V. Rafer

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