Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 13:8-10; Luke 14:25-33)
The mystic Henri Nouwen wrote a book about praying with open hands. He said that prayer is difficult because it demands that we open our inmost being – our sins, our desires, our insecurities – to God. The image he used to express the reluctance to do this is a closed hand. A closed hand often clings to something that it cannot release. One cannot pray with a closed hand but must open it. In today’s gospel Jesus says something very similar.
At the end of this astounding passage Jesus tells the crowd that they must give up all their “possessions” if they wish to follow him. In first century Israel this sacrifice often entailed loss of house and family as one is ostracized for being a Christian. Today “possessions” should be considered as more inclusive. It means not just material things but the old prejudices, dislikes, and corrupt hearts to which people are wont to cling.
Giving up all that we have frightens us. “Perhaps we are being deceived,” we say to ourselves. “What if I change my mind?” we ask. Jesus would answer that he is with us to provide the support we need to find our way to eternal life. There we shall be rewarded well beyond any sacrifice we are asked to make now.