God First

11.8.17  Wed. wk. 31 – O.T. (I)
1st Rdg  Romans 13:  8 – 10
Gospel  Luke:  14 – 25 – 33

Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, “If any one 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, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                                   God First

Followers are needed!  †Jesus says: “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!” (Luke 14:25)  Imagine these words of †Jesus!  They’re so harsh – aren’t they?

Well if †Jesus doesn’t speak bluntly, we probably wouldn’t even notice what He was saying.  How many times do we hear God’s Word, but don’t listen?  This was a typical type of discourse at the time of †Jesus.  You make stark contrasts to get people’s attention.  †Jesus wants to make sure that these serious words get through, so they hit like a sledgehammer.  Finding time for †Jesus must occupy every moment.  These are the words of †Jesus, the Wisdom of God guiding us.

Now we might say: ‘These words are for Father Mike or Father Sheahan, those who are really committed to following †Jesus’.  No, in the Gospel it says: “†Jesus turned to the crowd.”  Are you part of the crowd?  (speaking to the students)  Yes, you are, we are all part of the crowd.  †Jesus was talking to all of us.  But is †Jesus saying anything more demanding that maybe you have said, as parents, to your children?  As parents don’t you teach your children to set priorities in their life?  Don’t you try to teach them that they shouldn’t make ‘gods’ out of things – that there is only one God?  †Jesus is telling us that love for Him must be the deepest love anywhere.  He must come first, because our gentle God cannot be second in our life.  We love our parents, our spouse, our children, our siblings, our own life, because they are gifts from God.  Our life would be empty without these gifts!

So †Jesus is not telling us to hate our loved ones, or even to despise them.  He is only telling us that we must love Him first, above all else, and everything follows from there,.  We must remove all barriers to our love for God.   Every thing that stands in the way of our relationship with God, we need to move to the side.  (In biblical times, the word “hate” did not have the passion that oftentimes we apply to it now.)  It was interpreted – ‘to prefer less’ not to love less, but ‘to prefer less.’

Remember what †Jesus said at the Last Supper to His disciples: “I give you a new commandment: ‘Love one another as I have loved.’” (Jn.15:12)  †Jesus loved the Father and was obedient to the Father’s Will.  His act of sacrificial love was an expression of His perfect love for us, because, as a result of His death on the cross – we were saved.  He loved the Father so much that He gave His life for us.  When we love God above all else, our act of sacrificial love blesses everyone else, our parents, our children, our spouses, and our siblings.  The holy words that are expressed today connect a loving God in us – equally.  “To love another is to love God.”

Remember the two great commandments?  †Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your strength and with all your mind.” (Mark 12:30-31)  And He said: “The second is like it – to love your neighbor as your yourself.”  Well, the word used in the Gospel for “like it” is the Greek word – “homo-ousios”“of the same substance” / “inseparable.”   So, to love God is to love others.  The point is to love more purely, more deeply and more widely.  God is asking for our loyalty and our commitment above all else.  He is asking us to give our highest love to †Jesus and when we do that – it is an expression of our love for others.  And when we love others, completely and purely, we have just put God first, as well, haven’t we?  Because to love our neighbor is an expression on how we love God.  How we love one another tells us how much we love God.  Do we love God a whole bunch?  So how should we love everybody else – a whole bunch!  Right?  So putting God first is actually the same thing, it is putting everyone first.  But too often we think of ourselves first; that’s the problem.  But, when we put God first, all other graces will follow for our family.  Every blessing will follow from that.

†Jesus says: “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions.” (Luke 14:33) Put God first, be one with †Jesus, because that’s what it means to be complete.  We have to give ourselves completely to the Lord’s Will in our life.

So, †Jesus is calling us:  “Followers are needed!  Disciples are needed!”

What are the benefits?   “Eternal life with †Jesus!”

What is the salary?   “No earthly possessions can even come close!”

Vacations?   “Well the moment you start your job – you will have the time of your life!”

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.