Jesus uses many different examples, but his teaching is the same. He teaches that one who rashly sets out on an important project, without studying ahead of time if he has the means and the energy to accomplish what he intends, runs the risk of ending up failing.
No builder begins constructing a tower, in order to protect his vineyard, without first taking the time to calculate if he can finish it successfully. Otherwise, the project stays unfinished and elicits his neighbors’ ridicule. No ruler decides to enter into combat with a powerful enemy without first analyzing if that battle can end in victory or turn suicidal.
At first glance, it seems as though Jesus is inviting us to a prudent and cautious behavior that is far from the boldness with which he ordinarily speaks to his disciples. Nothing can be further from the truth. The mission that he wants to entrust to his followers is so important that they ought not to commit themselves to it unconsciously, rashly or presumptuously.
His warning has great relevance during these critical and decisive times for the future of our faith. Jesus calls us, first of all, to mature reflection. The two characters in the parables sit down to reflect. It would be highly irresponsible of Jesus’ disciples to live today without knowing what they want or where they seek to get to or which means to work with.
When are we going to sit down to join forces, to reflect together and seek out the path we should all be following? Do we not need to devote more time, more attention to the Gospel and more meditation in order to uncover calls, awaken charisms and cultivate a renewed style of following Jesus?
Jesus also calls us to realism. We are living through an unprecedented socio-cultural change. Is it possible to spread faith in this new world without knowing well this world and understanding it from within? Can we facilitate access to the Gospel when we do not know the thinking, the feelings and the language of today’s men and women? Is it not a mistake to respond to today’s challenges with yesterday’s strategies?
It would be reckless of us in these times to act unconsciously or blindly. We would be exposing ourselves to failure, frustration and even ridicule. According to the parable, the unfinished tower does nothing but elicit for the builder mocking laughter on the part of onlookers. We should not forget the realistic and humble language of Jesus who invites his disciples to be the “leavening yeast” in the midst of the people, or a pinch of “salt” that give new flavor to people’s lives.
September 4, 2016
23 Sunday O.T. (C)
Luke 14, 25-33