TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (SEPTEMBER 8)
Wis 9:13-18b Ps 90:3-6,12-17 Phlm 9,10,12-17 Lk 14:25-33
Christ calls us, in the first place, to deny ourselves: “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:27). But, he also calls us to be free from the things of this world: “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions” (v. 33). We should learn how to renounce the things of this world because “the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans; for the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns” (Wis (:14-15). It is difficult to know the will of God and to fulfill it, if he does not grant us wisdom and strength by sending us the Holy Spirit from heaven. Thus, the more we renounce the things of this world and ourselves (cf Mt 16:24-26), the more we will know of the things of God, and the more “we shall work in accord with the Spirit” (Ga 5:25). “By means of our communion with the Holy Spirit, he makes us spiritual and re-establishes us in Paradise; he takes us to the kingdom of heaven and makes us adopted children; he gives us the confidence to call God Father and to participate in Christ’s grace, to be called children of light and to have part in eternal glory” (St. Basil, Spir. 15,36). Self denial and spiritual struggle are necessary for holiness because the way of perfection to which we are all called (Mt 5:48) goes by way of the cross. There is no sanctity without renunciation and spiritual struggle (cf 2Tm 4). Spiritual progress implies the ascetical effort and the mortification that leads us gradually to live in the peace and joy of the beatitudes: “He who ascends never ends in going from beginning to beginning through beginnings that have no end. He who ascends nevers wishes to leave behind what he already knows” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, hom in Cant. 8). But this ascent is not without the cross: “Outside of the Cross there is no other ladder by which to reach heaven” (St. Rose of Lima, Life).