Friday, September 6, 2013

The Sunday Word

The lesson for this week is from the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Jesus tells two quick parables to make the point that only a fool will start a project he cannot finish. A man won’t begin a tower without the money to finish it, and a king won’t commence a war unless he has the soldiers to fight it successfully. Without the proper resources, they will end up embarrassed, defeated — or both.

“So therefore,” says Jesus, “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  The tower of generosity must be built by everyone who wants to follow Jesus, constructed by gifts of time and talent and money and effort, offered in the service of something much bigger and more lasting than ourselves. Like members of the early church, we are to share our goods and possessions so no one in the community is forced to live in need.

Of course, the irony of generosity is that it enriches rather than depletes us. When we give to a Christian cause, we make the world better for ourselves and people around us. When we share our time and talents, we build up the kingdom of God in ways that never would have happened if we had kept to ourselves. Feeding a hungry child, sponsoring a refugee family, building a beautiful church — all these acts of generosity leave us feeling richer, not poorer, with a sense that we’re leaving the world better than we found it.

Because none of us can exit life with any of our possessions, we might as well be generous as we build for the generations that will follow.

Together, these are the three towers of Jesus: commitment, sacrifice and generosity. Yes, they take years to construct, but they last for centuries and benefit communities yet unborn. In a world of instant gratification, these towers are long-term acts of faith, entirely consistent with a life of discipleship.

Nothing bizarre about them.