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Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The images Jesus chose for his teaching were very powerful. A tower is a very striking feature in a landscape. The picture above shows a church in Hamburg, which was left as it was after being bombed in World War II: it conveys a strong message, as the unfinished tower would have done to Jesus’ listeners. For the last few Sundays he has been describing the cost of discipleship and the need to be prepared for this. Recently a bishop and priests have been arrested by a dictator in South America, because they protested against the oppression of the people. In many other countries Christians suffer persecution and death at the hands of other dictators and extremists.

Jesus frequently talked about giving up possessions. When he sent his disciples out in pairs ahead of him, he instructed them to travel light (Luke 10:40). He wanted them to concentrate on their mission, rather than worrying about what they would need on their journey. In a sense we do not possess anything, as all comes from God. We need material things to live but they should not distract us from what is really important. In the story of Martha and Mary, the latter realised that listening to Jesus was the only thing that was necessary (Luke 10:38-41). It was not that household chores can be ignored, but rather that they should not become ends in themselves.