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September 9, 23d in Ordinary Time Lk 14/25-33
Catholic Homilies
September 9th, 2001

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23d in Ordinary Time Lk 14/25-33


When we hear a gospel like the one today we often find ourselves wondering whether Jesus really meant that we should turn our backs on our families. Or was he exaggerating? This is a dilemma especially for those who believe in the absolute literal interpretation of the bible, though even they most fundamentalists of people preach family values, rather against the literal interpretation of this passage. The problem is that the question does not understand the culture of which Jesus was part and the style of expression in which he spoke. Jesus was neither exaggerating nor speaking literally. Rather he was engaging in poetic expressions to emphasize the kind of dedication he expected from those who followed him - then and now. St. Luke obviously chose this because in the present passage he combines many different sayings of Jesus, collected (perhaps before St. Luke) around the theme of dedication. Christianity is not supposed to be easy.

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Once upon a time there was an eighth grader who was a great, great quarterback. Everyone said he'd be varsity in his sophomore year, he was go good. They even said that when he graduated from high school he might go to Notre Dame where they specialize in ruining potentially great quarterbacks. Well, the kid was really good, but he was also really lazy. Or maybe we should say he thought there were more important things to do with the summer than weight training and practice the first week in August. And maybe he was right. He wanted to play football, you see, but he figured he was good enough that he could take the summer off and still play. So he didn't show up the first week in August or any week in August. When school started, he finally wandered down to the football field and threw a few perfect passes. The team was enthused. Maybe he would be varsity as a freshman. But the coach saw him and chased him off the field. "You didn't come to summer practice", the coach said, "we don't want you now". Maybe the coach was wrong; maybe there shouldn't be August practice. BUT if you don't want to work at something, no matter how good you are, you may be out of luck.

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