MATTHEW 16:24-25 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:24-28)

Jakarta, 7 August 2020

A Christian Pilgrim


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 (A biblical reflection on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C]- June 30, 2013) 

First Reading: 1Kings 19;6,19-21; Psalms: Ps 16:1-2,5-11; Second Reading: Gal 5:1,13-18; Gospel Reading: Lk 9:51-62 


In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, there was an article on Bela Karolyi, a Rumanian gymnastic coach. He was once the coach of the national Rumanian team that produced the world and Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci.

BELA KAROLYI - 01In 1981 Bela Karolyi defected to the U.S. with a suitcase, leaving everything else behind including his Mercedes. Today he trains more than 300 youths at his Sundance Athletic Club in Houston.

To attain world class status in gymnastics the way Nadia Comaneci did, an athlete must become a disciple of a master like Bela Karolyi. First, she must sacrifice her own personal comfort and follow a strenuous training program. Second, she must reorder her priorities, attach supreme importance to gymnastic and subordinate everything else to it. Third, she must make a single-minded commitment to persevere in spite of difficulties and disappointments.

These same three elements of discipleship are required of our Lord’s followers in today’s Gospel. In responding to three individuals who offer to become His disciples, Jesus talks about three conditions: First, not having a place to lay one’s head. In other words, a willingness to make sacrifices with little concern for personal comfort. Second, leaving the dead to bury the dead, even in one’s own family. In other words, giving the Kingdom of God absolute priority, especially when conflict of interest arise. Third, putting one’s hand to the plow without looking back. In other words, a disciple must make an unswerving commitment to His mission.

KEMURIDAN - YESUS MEMILIH KAKAK-BERADIK ANAK ZEBEDEUSIf such is the case, who of us if fit to be a follower of Christ? Who of us would dare to be one of His disciples? The answer is, “All of us.” If we understand these three conditions correctly, every one of us is destined to this kind of discipleship.

In his commentary on the Gospel, Scripture scholar Carroll Stuhlmueller claims that the sayings of Jesus must be understood in the Semitic background of contrast and exaggeration. Jesus was deliberately trying to startle us, to stir up thought, to compel us to count the cost of committing ourselves to His cause – the Kingdom of God.

Or, to put it another way, Jesus is warning us against cheap grace. Our call to discipleship demands that we make difficult choices – not always between good and evil, but between the good and the best; not always without ambiguity, but with the risk of faith.

First, there are times when we have to sacrifice our own personal comfort in order to minister to the sick, visit the elderly, share with the poor or listen to the lonely. Second, there are times when we have to reorder our priorities and duties in order to allot time for meditation as well as for our recreation, spend time with our family as well as with our work, or give time to parish programs as well as to our own personal projects. Third, there are times when we need single-minded dedication to persevere in the face of obstacles in order to keep our hand to the plow of chastity when the public promotes pornography, remain faithful to our marriage promises when divorce would be an easy way out, and not look back in pushing ahead for a Constitutional Amendment to protect the unborn.

None of us will probably ever become a world-class gymnast – even under a master like Bela Karolyi. But all of us can become would-class Christians by firmly resolving to follow Jesus – not only when we have plenty, but even in poverty; not only when we feel like it, but even when all we have is faith to go on; not only to Jerusalem, but even as far as Calvary. 

Note: Taken from Fr. Albert Cylwicki CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1988, pages 263-264.

Jakarta, 30th of June 2013 

A Christian Pilgrim


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 (A biblical reflection on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – June 30, 2013)

Gospel Reading: Luke 9:51-62 

First Reading: 1Kings 19;6,19-21; Psalms: Ps 16:1-2,5-11; Second Reading: Gal 5:1,13-18 


When the days drew near for Him to be received up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem. And He sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered aq village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him; but the people would not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do You want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” To another He said, “Follow Me.” But He said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.  (Lk 9:51-62 RSV) 

The life of Jesus was a journey through this world until He finally returned to heaven. The good news for us is that heaven if the goal of our pilgrimage too. It is an end well worth the cost of singleminded dedication and detachment.

As Jesus’ mission on earth drew to a close, “He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). In Jerusalem, which symbolizes the entirety of God’s plan, both old and new, Jesus accomplished the Father’s will by His death, resurrection, and ascension (Lk 9:31). As a result of Jesus’ obedience, the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Kingdom of God advanced throughout the world.

Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, determined to fulfil His Father’s plan for Him. He turned His back on everything that would prevent Him from accomplishing God’s will. He had faith that the Father was His inheritance, His chosen portion and cup (Ps 16:5). Therefore, He surrendered His life to His Father. Jesus knew that there was “fullness of joy” in the Father’s presence – that in His “right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Ps 16:11).

Like Jesus, we too must set our faces toward Jerusalem. To glorify the Father as Jesus did means we also will undergo suffering and persecution as He did. We can take courage, however, because Christ has overcome the world (Jn 16:33) and in Him we too overcome. To be victorious in Christ, we are called to accept the Father’s will and follow Jesus without reservation.

Following Jesus requires that we surrender ourselves to Him and place our security in Him alone. Jesus relied only on the Father for His security and thus had “nowhere to lay His head” in this world (Lk 9:58). Like Jesus, we need to put aside everything and preach the Kingdom of God: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God” (Lk 9:60). Finally, we cannot look back to the past but need to look forward to the future. One who plows does not look back to see if his furrows are straight (Lk 9:62). With hope and expectation, we keep our eyes fixed on God, trusting in His sovereignty and having confidence that His plan will be fulfilled in us.

These proverbs are reflections on what is required to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus calls us not to “save” our lives, but to sacrifice them as well as all our worldly treasures for Him, just as He did for the Father. In so doing, we will find fullness of life and know that God is our inheritance.

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes to the majesty of our heavenly home. May this vision compel us forward as we seek Jesus, the pearl of great price. Jesus, we want to be with You forever! Amen.

Jakarta, 28th of June 2013 

A Christian Pilgrim


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[FRIDAY, 1 MARCH 2013] 


Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.” (Mt 16:24-27 RSV) 

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, teach us what it means to deny our very selves. We know that we must let go of all material things in this world, of anything that would keep us from possessing You. We ask You to enter into the depths of ourselves, so that we can see and understand how we must let go of the life we cling to, how we must abandon everything into Your hands, that we must somehow embrace nothingness, in order to have You. Teach us, Lord Jesus Christ, to deny ourselves day by day, so that at Your coming, we will have no hesitation in leaving all things in this life, to be with You for all eternity. Amen. 

The prayer is taken (with slight changes) from Fr. Killian Speckner OFMConv., THE PRAYERS OF FATHER KILLIAN – A Franciscan Missionary’s Guide to Daily Devotion, Paraclete Press, 1986. 

A Christian Pilgrim


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