Jesus Christ is our one Teacher. Those who do not stop learning from him, following him on the way of the cross, are truly his disciples.
Great crowds travel with Jesus. But quality matters to him more than quantity. He wants disciples who do not only go with him but also are learning from him.
After all, learning from a teacher is what to be a disciple means. And learning from Jesus is what counts above all. For since he is the Messiah, he is our one Teacher (Mt 23. 10).
Besides, unlike not a few official teachers, Jesus practices what he preaches. He teaches, yes, by words and deeds. And so, Christian learning is not so much about knowing laws and doctrines as following “the Way” (see Acts 9, 2; 19. 9. 23; 22. 4; 24, 14. 22). Not to abolish, then, the law and the propjets, but to fulfill them, may refer also to such way of walking. For Halakhah, though usually translated as “Jewish Law” literally means “the path that one walks.”
And Jesus straight out warns us that walking with him and learning from him is not at all easy. In the first place, he asks total availability from his disciples. In the second place, since worldly people persecute him, his disciples can expect persecution also (see Jn 5, 20). The disciples, in the third place, following their Teacher, are not to take money as their reason for being and acting.
In the face of such demands of the Way, we who seek learning from Jesus must sit down and think.
Jesus, of course, does not want us to fail. That is why he challenges us to think and see if we have what it takes to be his disciples.
That is, Jesus wishes us success in becoming like him, obedient to God, and so, committed to the poor. Undoubtedly, it is God’s will that they live more humanly and with dignity. We cannot, then, let family or personal interests hinder us from doing God’s will.
Nor can we let fear of persecution, hunger or nakedness stop us. So, Jesus encourages us, going ahead of us on the road. On the road leading to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. On the road of renouncement of all possessions.
Yes, such learning is hard. But it makes for wisdom, freedom and brotherhood or sisterhood, the abolition of slavery. And it leads, finally, to the resurrection and exaltation. “We cannot better assure our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, in the arms of Providence and with genuine renouncement of ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ” (SV.EN III:384).
Lord Jesus, grant that we keep learning from you, carrying the cross and following your footsteps.
8 September 2019
23rd Sunday in O.T. (C)
Wis 9, 13-18b; Phmn 9-10. 12-17; Lk 14, 25-33