What it Takes to be a Follower of Jesus

09-04-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The larger message of this weekend’s readings is that we probably need to look at life differently than we do and that we should change or adjust our point of view. For what we see has to do with where we stand in the sense of what we can see. Too close, we see too little, and too far, we miss the details; we need to change our mental point of view as according to this weekend’s scripture. In many ways, we only see things from our own point of view. We are being invited this weekend to look at things from God’s point of view, or at least to incorporate part of this view into our own.

With this theme of looking at how we see things, aka our point of view, it makes sense that the Old Testament reading contrasts human wisdom with divine. We learn that our human wisdom is narrowed and focused by our limitations and that God’s wisdom knows no limits. The wisdom of God is bigger and deeper than our own. The readings tell us that we struggle just to get a sense of the things of earth and cannot even begin to understand the mind of God. The reading reminds us that even the wisest person knows so very little. Sad to say the wisest person is the one who knows that he or she does not know.

The second reading finds Paul sending back a runaway slave, Onesimus by name, to his owner, Although this letter of Paul instructs Philemon to treat Onesimus as equal as he is a Christian now, the letter fails to address the immorality of slavery. Sadly this evil of slavery was not ad-dressed by the earliest of Christians and only happened much later. It is too bad that Paul did not demand a true new social order with the elimination of slavery where everyone is truly free in Christ. We must accept that throughout the history of Christianity, even from the beginning, some of our social and moral values needed to change radically. The earthly Kingdom of God is a work in progress. About one hundred years ago, women were property of husbands, and even now women have not attained their rightful dignity and role in life. Our Church and each one of us must work and grow to help make this Earthly Kingdom a better reflection of the Heavenly Kingdom.

In our Gospel passage the selection of these brief parables is meant to help us understand what it takes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We are confronted and challenged to be a prudent person who thinks and plans ahead on how to be a follower of Christ. Pure impulsiveness is not the way to follow the Lord Jesus as we must “be prepared.” We also learn that we must be prepared “to give all”. Oftentimes we like to spare a free moment or an extra dollar for God or charity, but we are challenged to realize that following Jesus requires a more fundamental commitment. As the scripture indicates, we must calculate the cost and then decide if we will make the commitment. We need to follow the best thinking of God, not our own thinking. That is what it takes. When we allow God’s thinking to enter our own thinking, then we can become a better followers and disciple of Jesus Christ.