I grew up with my father, who is a Civil Engineer. He was someone that could figure out just about anything. It was a great way to grow up as a child because I had the freedom to work on cars, do radio stuff, and do production stuff. I remember working on a car many times, and I would not even know what I was doing. I would try to figure out what was wrong with the vehicle and where the noise was coming from and begin exploring, moving, and removing parts. If I ever got trapped, I could say, “Hey, Dad, I’m stuck somehow.” And he would come out and help me. He would know all the answers. Today we have YouTube, so that’s even better. You go to YouTube, and we can find all the answers there.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I always underestimate how long something will take and how much it will cost. For example, I went to a concert over the summer, and you see the ticket prices. I think these were cheap, $30.00 or something like that. So, I got excited and called all my siblings, “We can go to this concert. It’s only $30.00.” Well, what happens? You add a service fee; an internet finds cost (I don’t know what), and three or four fees. Before you know it, the ticket price turns out to be $50.00. Then you get to the concert and guess what? You have to pay for parking, so that’s another $25.00. Before you know it, the show is three times what I expected it to be.
I was even moving over here. I thought it would be just so easy. I would get in my truck and move it all over. I thought I would move it all in one day. Do you know how many days it took me? Three days! So, for my planning, I always underestimate what it will cost and how long it will take. I have created that motto: “It’s three times the cost, and it’s three times the money.”
Jesus in the Gospel today is telling us that if you wish to build and construct a tower, who of you does not first sit down and calculate the cost?
So, before you build a tower . . . Anybody makes a new home at any point in your life? (Hands are raised) Is it a fun project? It’s a complex project. You have to do all the math and all the planning before you start building.
Jesus says, if you don’t calculate the cost and there is not enough for completion after laying the foundation, you will be unable to finish the work. Onlookers would look at you and laugh and say, “This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.”
He’s talking about what it means to build this relationship with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. He’s saying that to build the Kingdom of God, we must figure out and blueprint what this will cost us. He goes on to the end to say that anyone who does not renounce all possessions cannot be my disciple. What is it going to cost us to build the Kingdom of God? Everything! So, way more than we thought. Three times more. Three times longer. That is what it will cost us to build the Kingdom of God.
He begins with this strange passage, “If anyone coming to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Is anybody bothered by that? Does the passage make it a little confusing? As I researched this and read some of the commentaries, the word for hating in the scriptures means to love less. So, if anyone comes to me without loving his father and mother less than loving Jesus, his wife, brothers, sisters, and even our own life, you have to love Jesus more than that. To do His will and get to heaven with Him, we must love Him above all in our life.
I think there’s a reason that the scripture uses the word hate. I just learned from kids that that’s a bad word. I’m not allowed to say that word, so I’m sorry, parents, but it’s in the scripture.
Unless you hate his father and mother, that is a strong word, and Jesus uses it as hyperbole. He’s making it intense so that we can see that not only do we love them less but hate them if they’re not helping us come to Christ. When we come to Christ, Jesus says this won’t be easy. It will be much more complex and take much longer than we thought, so be patient. He finishes that with whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
What it means for discipleship is that we have to carry our cross and come after Him. That’s a lot more difficult than we want. And it lasts a lot longer than we want, right? So, unless we carry the cross, we cannot follow Him.
In the second reading, Paul takes this and lives this out. Paul is working with this young man who is enslaved. His name is Onesimus which means “useful one.” He gets sent to Paul to be his slave, and Paul ends up just falling in love with this one and turning him into a disciple. After making him a disciple, he sends him back to the other disciples and says, “He’s no longer enslaved. He’s your brother.” Then Paul says this: “I am a slave. I am a slave for Christ.” Paul has given his whole life so much that he calls himself an enslaved person for Christ.
That’s what it’s going to take for us to enter the Kingdom of God that we give our will so entirely to God that we consider ourselves His slave. Anything He wants, we will do. We offer our full intentions to Him.
Finally, in the first reading, who can know the counsels of God, or who can conceive what the Lord intends? We don’t know what He will ask us for in this life or how he will ask us for, what our cross may be, or how long we may carry our cross. But, if we set out this plan that we’re going to give ourselves to God, we’re going to give our lives, we’re going to be His slaves and do His will completely, all of our decisions become very clear and very easy. But it often takes three times the cost of what we think it will and three times the time we believe it will.
I invite you in this moment of silence after the homily to think about the cost is asking you for discipleship. What may your cross be in life? And if you have indeed given your will to Him, do you consider yourself like Paul to be His slave, in a good way, to provide yourself with so much to Him that whatever He desires of you, whatever He asks of you, whatever cross you may be given, that you receive it with all of your heart and desire to do His will.
If you haven’t done that in a while, close your eyes, and I invite you to give yourself to God. Give your will to Him so you can build God’s Kingdom right here on earth.