PURPOSEFUL PLANNING AND FORESIGHT VIS-À-VIS TRUE DISCIPLESHIP HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR (C). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

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For life to be worthwhile generally there must be purposeful planning and foresight. Many people encounter series of failures at various points in their lives because they failed to plan which invariably means that they planned to fail. What do you think occasions the collapse of most businesses, marriages, relationships and other ventures? Simply put; lack of purposeful planning, foresight or improper planning.

There are some people who live the life of presumption as a substitute for planning and foresight; but presumption is a far cry from planning and unconnected to foresight. There was a man who was coming back from a visit to his maternal home riding on a bicycle. He was so much loved in that area as he actually grew up there under his late grandmother as his mother died while giving birth to him. By the time he grew up he moved over to his father’s house and would visit his maternal home very often. On this particular day he had a great meal at his maternal uncle’s house and as the atmosphere began to show signs of a great rain, he decided to round up his visit and go home.

He had scarcely left the place when the sky became so misty and cloudy and he pedalled home increasing the speed at which he went. As he rode the sign of imminent rain became very obvious and at the same time he felt an intense call to urinate; in fact he could feel that his bladder was filled to the brim. In his mind stopping to ease himself would take him time and the rain would catch up with him. “What is the difference?” He asked himself. “It is going to rain after all whether I stop to urinate or not!” With this thought the man allowed the urine to follow since the rain was going to catch up with him and get him wet. He felt as relieved as ever as he answered the call of nature; it was so recreating for him.

As he rode into his town, he noticed that the sun was still shinning and there was no sign of rain; in fact he had entered into the town square where many people usually gather to socialize as the sun sets. Being a very popular man he was greeted by almost everybody and it was courteous to stop and exchange pleasantries. When he stopped all eyes went on his trousers one side of which was soaked by his urine. “What happened to your trousers?” Someone from the lot asked. He found himself saying immediately that the rain was so much at his maternal home. Another person quickly remarked that he was lucky that the rain only affected one strand of his trousers and everyone laughed; this is stark presumption and lack of foresight.

 The situation in the gospel periscope (Luke 14:25-33) is very much like a presumptuous situation. There were so many people accompanying Jesus as he was making his way. For most of them in their worthless thinking as the first reading would tell us, walking with Jesus Christ along the way was enough qualification to be counted as his disciples. Our Lord was sensitive enough to lay the cards on the table for the multitude to see. Hence turning to them he made a very shocking statement which had to do with hating those they love and even their own lives before they can qualify as his true disciples. He went on to indicate that following him involves carrying one’s cross. He further gave some concrete instances with purposeful planning and foresight with regard to building a house and engaging in combative warfare. We shall be reflecting on these.

In the first place it is good for us to understand that there is a very big difference between accompanying someone and following the person. To accompany someone means to go with someone to some place. In this situation there is some note of independence between the individual and the person going with him or her. The person often does not have any obligation towards the individual in this way he or she can end the company anything moment. To follow someone on the other hand entails subscribing to the teachings and methods of another person. Another word is an adherent. From this viewpoint we understand that at that time our Lord Jesus Christ had many people accompanying him and but not following him and he wanted them to know that following him should not be confused with accompanying him.

The next instruction focuses on those who intend to follow him. They are expected to “HATE” their close relations and acquaintances as well as their lives. The original Greek word for hate as used in the passage is miseo and this means “to love less”. Hence hatred as used here does not entail to despise but to develop a greater love and attention to Jesus Christ than to relations, acquaintances and other things. This actually recalls our Lord’s answer to the question as to which is the greatest of all the commandments in the gospel of Matthew (22:36-37). To this he maintained that the first is that we should love God with all our hearts and with all our soul and with all our mind and the second is that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. If we deeply and genuinely love God our relations and acquaintances will be taking care of. To this St. John would say that if anyone says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar (1 John 4:20).

In the next instruction our Lord asked those who are ready to become his followers (and not company) to come along with their cross. Oftentimes we are afraid of the cross because it speaks of suffering; hence unpalatable; the truth however is that without the cross the crown will be far-fetched (James 1:12). St. Paul would tell us that the message of the cross is foolishness for those who are perishing but for those who are saved it is the power of God (1 Cor.1:18). Moreso if you take a very reflective look at the cross you will discover a lot of amazing features:

·       It is a PLUS (+) sign so it adds to our lives.

·       It is LADDER that one can use to climb over any obstacle or barrier.

·       It is a WEAPON to fight sin and the devil. In fact if you position the cross horizontally it appears like a gun.

·       It points to and leads us to HEAVEN.

In the next section our Lord used the imagery of a building project and warfare engagement to drive home the fact that discipleship involves a cost; hence the need for planning and foresight.

 Building a house is cost effective and whoever wants to undertake that does so by first checking the involvement vis-à-vis one’s financial standing. If you take a look around in most places you will see a lot of uncompleted buildings some have stayed for years and there is no light on completion. A friend of mine, referring to a building project, said that money is the factor holding the job not that one is giving time for the block work to get stronger. Now if being a disciple of Jesus Christ is like a building one could be safe by making Jesus Christ the corner stone; (Eph.2 20-21) that is purposeful planning and foresight.

The Christian life is like warfare and that was the instruction of the book of Sirach (2:1). St. Paul made it more lucid in his letter to the Ephesian (6:13-17) where he dressed the Christian with all the necessary war paraphernalia. And in 2nd Timothy (2:3-4) he called the followers of Christ soldiers who must be formidable in combat. To be combat ready as a Christian one has to make a dependable choice to fight consistently on the side of Jesus Christ this is purposeful planning and foresight in the sense that the fight is actually that of the Lord as the Lord will do the fighting for you. (Ex.14:14).

Our lord ended by giving us the ponderable step towards the realisation of the preceding instructions. Simply put he suggested that we should renounce ALL we have. This is another challenging one in a world that is too materialistic. To renounce is to give up or abandon what one has. In this regard we are called upon to renounce attachment and attraction to those things that will hinder us from carrying the cross, building well and fighting well. These could be our family and relationships, positions, material possessions and life styles.

For us to be true disciples of Jesus Christ we need to prepare for purposeful planning and foresight. This can actually come to us if we are imbued with spiritual intelligence. This is beyond emotional and social intelligence. Spiritual intelligence means our being sensitive to what God wants and being able to do them in order to gain blessings. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us an insight to this when he said “seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and other things will be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). This is being spiritually intelligent. It is the same as entering through the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13).

I wish you a blessed week with purposeful planning and foresight to the glory of God.

Fr. Bonnie.

One Comment on “PURPOSEFUL PLANNING AND FORESIGHT VIS-À-VIS TRUE DISCIPLESHIP HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR (C). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

  1. Your reflection is full of inspiration. The didactic lesson speaks for itself. Gratia!

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