23rd Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Sept. 4, 2022
As Christians, there are certain teachings of Jesus that make us feel good, teachings that make us comfortable. Other teachings are much more difficult and uncomfortable. If we are honest, many times we tend to just ignore the difficult ones. But, by passing them by, even if difficult, we miss out on some very important wisdom for our lives.
The teachings in today’s Gospel are some of those difficult ones. It would be easier to ignore them, to pass them by. In the very last line, Jesus says, “… whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.” Are we ready to let go of all of our possessions? Which possessions do we cling to? Are we free or are we prisoners of our possessions? Which are we able to let go of, to stop clinging to?
Years ago, a friend of mine had lost her only sister in her early 20’s, then her dad and finally her mother died as well. She was the only one left and she inherited the family home that she grew up in here in Hamilton. But, she worked and lived in Toronto. She held on to that house since it was her connection to her family. It was lots of work to have to return to look over it, one day a theft got in and stole things, other problems happened, it was a real burden for her. But, she was clinging to this house finding it hard to let go. I could understand her feelings, even if it had become a possession that was not allowing her to be free. One day, a fire broke out and it burned down. Though very difficult at the time, the loss of this possession, actually set her free. She had to let go of it.
Possessions come and go. At the end of our life, they are all left behind. As we get older and you have to downsize, you are often forced to let go of many possessions that we have been clinging to through the years. What are we clinging to? What is weighing us down on the way? Are our possessions an obstacle to us being free, an obstacle to following Jesus freely?
What possessions do you have? Which would you find most difficult to let go of? I am not speaking about children or grandchildren or spouses or friends, since they are not possessions.
Do our possessions make us freer or less free? Do they lead to holiness or away from holiness?
If some were gone tomorrow would it really make much difference?
“… whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.” This is one of those tough teachings of Jesus that we prefer to just ignore. But, there is a wisdom at its core. Let it challenge you, let it force you to reflect. Do your possessions own you or do you own your possessions? How free are we in relation to our possessions? We need to let this teaching confront us.