Who am I? Where am I? Where am I going? These three critical questions can be applied to the readings this past Sunday and can assist us as we apply the teachings in our daily lives throughout the week and beyond.
Who Am I? “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother…he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). What?! Okay, Jesus isn’t really encouraging us to hate our parents, but we do need to love them less (really a better translation than hate) than we love God. He is telling us that we need to put our priorities in order; serving God has to come before everything else, no matter how dear to us. However, this order makes no sense unless you know you are a child of God, beloved to Him. That is the fundamental reality from which everything else flows.
Where Am I? We are on a journey, like Onesimus in the Second Reading; Paul is sending him backto Philemon. Onesimus had been enslaved to Philemon working off a large debt before he ran away, joined Paul, and became a Christian. He would probably rather not go back, but he trusts that Paul, who has become like a father to him, knows better for him. Do you trust where the Father has placed you? Perhaps you have a difficult job or boss. Do you allow yourself to be drawn into a soap opera of drama, chaos, and negativity, or do you conduct yourself as a Christian in these difficult circumstances? Where your journey ends depends upon the answer. Bloom where you are planted.
Where Am I Going? Again, it depends, but clearly we can’t do much on our own. “…who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high” (Wisdom 9:17)? We can’t simply follow our whims; the Lord must be our refuge (from Psalm 90). Inadvertently or intentionally, we are planning our final destination for all eternity right now in every thought, word, action, and choice. In the Gospel Reading, Jesus urges those who would follow Him to “calculate the cost” of discipleship; however, we must also calculate the cost failing to follow Him. Be intentional! Conduct every moment of your life with the end in mind.
Catholicism 101. Wisdom is part of seven Old Testament books Catholics refer to as the deuterocanonicals. These books (Baruch, Sirach, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, and Wisdom) teach Catholic doctrine, and for this reason they were taken out of the Old Testament by Martin Luther and placed in an appendix, along with four New Testament books (Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation). Other Protestants later reinserted the New Testament books, but not the deuterocanonicals. Following Luther, they had been left in an appendix to the Old Testament, which was dropped in 1827 by the British and Foreign Bible Society.