Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Options
The world in which we live provides a far greater range of options than was available to earlier generations. Choosing wisely, then, is important and all three readings offer advice on this matter of choice.

Wisdom 9: 13-18 - Here we are told of the folly of trying to understand life without reference to the wisdom of God. It is hard enough making sense of much that happens with God, let alone trying to piece it together without Divine guidance.

Philemon 9-10;12-17 - Tactfully, Paul writes to his friend Philemon, an early convert to Christ, and asks him to deal kindly with the runaway slave, Onesimus, despite the fact that under the existing law he could be punished severely.

Luke 14:25-33 - At first sight, Christ's words, as recorded for us by Luke, are unacceptable, to say the least. Deeper insight is needed to understand what it is that He is saying. In normal transactions, people assess the benefits to be gained by one line of action as distinct from another. The decision to follow Christ is worth any price, even family relationships if that is necessary.

Point 1: Almost without exception, people tell me that living today involves a great deal of stress brought on by the constant need for decision making. For openers, there is the insecurity associated with debt and the ever present possibility of becoming unemployed - mortgages to be paid, cars and household goods all on hire purchase. Then, there are family decisions - personal relationships, education of the children, easing them through adolescence; the anxieties associated with growing older. The list goes on and on. On top of all of this, there is the big, eternal question - what is life all about?

Point 2: To this question, our attitudes may change with the stage of life we are going through.  As children, the majority of us are taught that our ultimate happiness is to be found in God - "God made us to know, love and serve Him here on earth and to be happy with him forever in heaven". We do this by keeping the Commandments, by learning to use the talents He has endowed us with and enjoying the fruits of our work. As we grow up and become exposed to other explanations of life, we sometimes waver from this understanding, and totally material goals may enter to dominate our thinking. Finally, in our twilight years, when we find ourselves nearer to death than to birth, our thinking may change again. All these stages, however, have a common denominator - they expose us to lives of doubt, anxiety, fear and distrust.

Conclusion: What Christ is saying is that although His way involves degrees of sacrifice, it is worth while making that sacrifice, where necessary, because there are benefits to be gained. In the place of doubt, anxiety, fear and trust we become open to lives of generosity, trust and confidence. Today's gospel is urging us to be realistic in approaching the fundamental options in our lives with the same care and prudence that we bring to other areas of decision making in our lives. The builder carefully considers his estimates just as the military leader assesses the strength of the forces opposing him. We are being encouraged to weigh carefully the advantages of following Christ even where there is a price to be paid. G.K. Chesteron once commented that -"he did not know anyone who, on his death bed, regretted having been a practicing Christian"! Words of wisdom echoing earlier wisdom expressed in the Book of Sirach.

Scriptural reference: "Do your work in good time, and in his own time God will give you your reward" (Sir. 51.30)