Ordinary Time 23 C: How to build a tower and how to prepare for battle are the Gospel images this week. Yet before and after these two practical examples of discernment, Luke arranges sayings about the nature of discipleship, consistent with the whole of the teachings on the way to Jerusalem. The message concerns attachment to the world in family and materialism. The tower is about the financial resources and the preparations for battle about Human Resources. The contractor and the king each have need to engage more than the worldly ion their decision making; there’s something more interior, spiritual, and intangible informing their decision. In any event in their enterprise, each has come to the time of decision making.

If anything, old age helps on to renounce one’s possessions, because downsizing becomes the matter of the day. All the books, the kitchen gadgets, furniture and all become more and more optional the older I get. But Jesus is talking about dong this at the beginning, not the end, of the journey. Great crowds were following him, apparently mostly from northern Galilee. Did they leave behind family and their work to follow Jesus?

Jesus sets out the terms of discipleship in rather strong language for the Pharisees who are considering following him, after all why are they there. for us too there is the invitation waiting for our response. If we think we can postpone this, consider that the builder of the tower and the king planning a battle are on a limited and immediate time line, given the mockery to follow when the tower is incomplete and the closeness of the opposing king. Time is of the essence in both cases, and so it is with the journey to Jerusalem — Jesus is getting closer. He is not turning back.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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