The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Why does Jesus say we must ‘hate’ our families and even ourselves? The expression ‘to hate’ often meant to ‘prefer less’. Jesus used strong language to make clear that nothing should take precedence or first place over God. God our heavenly Father created us in his image and likeness to be his sons and daughters. He has put us first in his love and concern for our welfare. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding love for us. True love is costly because it is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the beloved. God sacrificed his Son for our sake and for our salvation. God proved his love for us by sending his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who offered up his life for us as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
The cost of discipleship Jesus willingly embraced the cross, not only out of obedience to his Father’s will, but out of a merciful love for each one of us in order to set us free from sin, Satan, and death. Jesus knew that the cross was the Father’s way for him to achieve victory and glory for our sake. He counted the cost and said ‘yes’ to his Father’s will. We, too, must ‘count the cost’ and be ready to follow the Lord 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 me? It means that 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. 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 give more than God. He always gives us more than we can expect or imagine. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love of God?
The wise plan ahead to avert failure and shame What do the twin parables of the tower builder and a ruler on a war campaign have in common? Both men risk serious loss if they don’t carefully plan ahead. In a shame and honor culture people want at all costs to avoid being mocked by their community for failing to complete a task which they have begun in earnest. This double parable echoes the instruction of Proverbs: “By wisdom a house is built” and “by wise guidance you can wage a war” to ensure victory (Proverbs 24:3-6). In Jesus’ time every landowner who could afford it walled in his orchard as a protection from intruders who might steal or destroy his produce. A tower was usually built in a corner of the wall and a guard posted especially during harvest time when thieves would likely try to make off with the goods. Starting a building-project, like a watchtower, and leaving it unfinished because of poor planning would invite the scorn of the whole village. Likewise a king who decided to wage a war against an opponent who was much stronger, would be considered foolish if he did not come up with a plan that had a decent chance of success. Counting the cost and investing wisely are necessary conditions for making a good return.
We must count the cost if we want to invest in God’s kingdom Jesus tells his would-be disciples that they, too, must count the cost if they want to succeed as his disciples. Jesus assures success for those willing to pay the price. All it cost is everything we have – the entirety of our lives and all we possess! What does Jesus have to offer that’s worth giving up everything else? More than we can imagine! Jesus offers the gift of an abundant joy-filled life and the promise of everlasting peace and happiness with God for ever. (See the parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-45).
It’s natural to ask what will it require or cost before a commitment to invest in something of great value. Jesus was utterly honest and spared no words to tell his disciples that it would cost them dearly to follow after him and to invest in his heavenly kingdom. There can be no room for compromise or concession with God and his kingdom. We either give our lives over to him entirely or we keep them for ourselves. Paul the Apostle says, “We are not our own. We were bought with a price” ( 1 Corinthians 6:19b,20) . That price is the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed for us upon the cross to redeem us from slavery to sin and death.
Who do you love first – above all else? The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or any possession above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine what they love first and foremost. Jesus’ way to glory and power is opposite the world’s way of glory, power, and success. The choice is ours, but the Lord does not leave us alone if we choose to follow him. Does the love of Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (see 2 Corinthians 5)?
“Lord Jesus, may your love transform me that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. May you always be first in my thoughts and intentions, and in my words and actions.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
ONLY ALL IS ENOUGH
“My life is to be poured out.” Philippians 2:17
Many Christians feel that they don’t have to be totally abandoned to the Lord in order to be pleasing to Him and to do His will. They feel that it is sufficient to go to Church and try to live a decent life. The Lord proclaims the very opposite. If we aren’t so taken up with following Jesus that it seems we “hate” our wives, children, family, and selves, we will not be able to build God’s kingdom and win the war against the evil one (see Lk 14:26ff). If we don’t take up the daily cross of self-sacrifice and dying to self, we cannot be disciples of Jesus (Lk 14:27). If we don’t renounce all our possessions and be willing to give up anything and everything for Jesus, we cannot be His disciples (Lk 14:33). Furthermore, we should surrender everything to Jesus not reluctantly but cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7) and joyfully (see Phil 2:17).
Give all to Jesus. He gave all to us on the cross. Consider it a privilege to give all. Life in Christ is a life of total giving. Nothing else will do. Look at Jesus crucified. Do a one-minute crucifix novena. Look at a crucifix for at least one minute a day for nine days. Decide to love Jesus with all your heart (Lk 10:27).
Prayer: Father, may the love of Christ impel me to total love (2 Cor 5:14). Promise: “Prove yourselves innocent and straightforward, children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation among whom you shine like the stars in the sky while holding fast to the word of life.” Phil 2:15-16 Praise: Sarah fosters her relationship with Jesus through daily Mass and finds it a suffering when denied that privilege.
(For help in praying more often, read the Bible daily. For encouragement, order any or all of these audio or video tapes: Ignorance of Scriptures is Ignorance of Christ, AV 82-1, V-82, How to Pray the Bible on audio AV 82-3 or on video V-82, How to Read the Bible on audio AV 46-3 or on video V-46, Principles of Bible Interpretation, audio AV 79-1, video V-79.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014. The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements