Mass of Welcome to the Newly Ordained
St Brendan’s Church, Shepparton
14th December, 2015
1 Cor 2:1-10; Lk 14:25-33.
As we celebrate the return from Cebu of Father Junray Rayna and Father Novelito Lim, we now also welcome them as they join Father Stephen Bolling to commence their service as newly ordained priests in our diocese.
Reflecting on the beginning of priestly ministry for these three new priests in our diocese on this Feast of St John of the Cross, together with the readings of the feast, we find ourselves each called back to a consideration of our own ministry and our commitment.
In the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul says that his preaching is not based on intellectual concepts but only on the message of Jesus on the Cross. It is not a human wisdom that he preaches but rather God’s wisdom expressed by Jesus suffering and dying on the cross, something which many of the Jews and Gentiles of St Paul’s time could not understand or accept. But we know that for all of us, it is the Way of Jesus that is the true Wisdom.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus, as was often the case, surrounded by a huge crowd of people. They are full of enthusiasm and expectation but Jesus very quickly pulls them up short. St Luke has a rather a dramatic way of reporting the words of Jesus, that anyone who puts any person, even those closest to them, before total commitment to Christ and his mission, is not ready to be a disciple. There can be no compromise; it is all or nothing.
It is clear that, for those who want to be part of Jesus’ work, they have to give themselves completely and unconditionally. And, where there is a choice between the clear call of the Gospel and personal attachments, they must choose to let go of the latter.
It was important for the crowd to hear this. So, to illustrate this Jesus gives two examples:
• One is of a man who had a plan to build a tower. Before he started, he made sure that he had all the necessary resources. Otherwise he might find that, after laying the foundations, he could not finish the work and he would become the laughing stock of others. They would say “Ha! Ha! He began to build what he could not finish.”
• In the second example Jesus speaks of a king with 10,000 soldiers who finds he is going to war with another king who has 20,000. If he thinks there is no way he can win, he will send an envoys to negotiate the best peace terms he can get.
Similarly, says Jesus, no one can be a disciple of his who is not ready to let go of everything he has.
Following Jesus has to be absolute and unconditional. I wonder how many of the crowd listening were ready for that. How many of us are ready for that? Am I ready? And what are the things I am clinging to? What are the things of which I cannot let go? And why?
In the midst of the many voices clamouring for our time, money, allegiance and attention, we are called to choose Christ to the complete dispossession of all else. This is a great challenge for each of us, especially in our day. We so often define choice not as the freedom to choose one action over another, but as the freedom to choose everything at once. Freedom of choice has come to mean keeping our options open. The tragedy of this condition is that it is literally impossible to “keep our options open” and live lives of any significance.
The obvious problem is that it is impossible to make any choice without consequences that rule out other options. Every choice we make automatically excludes other choices. This choosing is essential and even desirable for a meaningful life.
The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives. Jesus' way to glory and power is opposite the world's way of glory and power. The choice is ours, but the Lord does not leave us alone if we choose to follow him.
"Lord, may your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Help me to count the cost and to joyfully embrace the cross for your sake."
Bishop Leslie Tomlinson