"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
The first reading is taken from the Book of Wisdom 9:13-18a. In today's extract the author is stressing man's incapability of understanding the divine plans and decrees. Because we are finite, limited beings, our knowledge is finite and limited. There are many limited, finite problems all around us, which we cannot solve. How could we hope to solve the infinite ones?
The second reading is from St. Paul to Philemon 9b-10, 12-17. This letter is the shortest of St. Paul's letters and at the same time the most personal and touching. During his first imprisonment in Rome (61-63), a slave called Onesimus, who had run away from his Christian master Philemon, a native of Colossae, came to Paul in Rome and was converted to Christianity. Paul sent him back to his master bearing this letter, in which Paul touchingly appeals to Philemon to deal kindly with the runaway.
The Gospel is from St. Luke 14:25-33 and teaches us that the essential condition for true discipleship, demanded by Christ, was, and still is, total dedication, total commitment of oneself to Him. There can be no such person as a half-Christian. "He that is not with me is against me," He said on another occasion. We cannot be for Christ on Sunday and against Him for the remainder of the week. To be His true disciples, His true followers, we must live our Christian life every day and all day.
Following Christ means making our way to heaven. It is a life-journey. We have a limited time in which to complete this journey. Therefore, we must travel a certain distance each day. This does not mean that we must spend every day in prayer and meditation. There are other tasks to be done, but we must Christianize these other tasks. Even the members of religious orders who "leave the world," that is, who are set free from the family and financial cares of this world by their vows of chastity and poverty, have to busy themselves with other cares like teaching, nursing, tilling the soil perhaps, house-keeping, writing and many such activities. They cannot and do not spend all their day and every day in prayer and meditation. Nor does Christ demand this of them.
Much less, therefore, does He demand this of the ninety-nine percent of His followers who have to take on themselves financial and family cares. It is by fulfilling these worldly duties in a Christian way that they are dedicating themselves to His service. This is their total commitment to Christ. The married man or woman who is loyal to his or her life-partner and to the family, if there is one, and who provides diligently and honestly for his own and the family's spiritual and temporal welfare, and who always does this with the intention of pleasing God, is following Christ and is moving steadily day by day towards heaven.
— Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle C, Fr. Kevin O' Sullivan, O.F.M.