23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): The Building Group
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel to your child.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus looks out at the large crowds of people. They keep following him. Do they know that following him means that they are his disciples? Do they know what it means to be his disciple? Jesus teaches them.
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
What is this? Jesus usually talks about love—love God; love your neighbour as yourself. Now he says hate everybody we love? That does not make sense. He must mean something else.
Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
This sounds strange, too. We know that Jesus carries his cross all the way to Golgotha where he is crucified and dies. The people who follow Jesus do not want to be crucified and die. Maybe following Jesus is not a good idea. Is Jesus trying to get rid of his disciples?
Jesus tells them this parable:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Often when Jesus tells a parable, there are two groups of people. There are the people we want to be like and the people we do not want to be like. Who are the two groups of people here?
One group of people begins to build a tower, lays the foundation, but does not have enough and cannot finish building. People stand around and laugh at them.
The other group of people realizes that they do not have enough and do not build at all.
Which group do we want to be in? What are we even building?
Which group is Jesus in? When Jesus carries his cross, is crucified and about to die, people pass by making fun of him:
Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:29-30)
People laugh at Jesus when he is dying, when he does not have enough to build the temple, when he has nothing left to give because he has given his whole life. They make fun of him because he does not love his life enough to save it. He must hate it.
He fails. He is not able to build a tower or the temple or the Kingdom of God. It all falls apart.
Nope. What do we know?
Jesus does not hang onto his life loving it more than he loves God. He does not have enough to build the Kingdom alone but he gives everything he has to God. He empties himself—so that God's life and love can completely fill him. He rises from the dead. He can never die again. In one person—in Jesus—death is no more.
Is the Kingdom of God complete? Nope. The light and life of God must spread to all people. Jesus cannot do it alone. Who will help build the Kingdom? Who will love like Jesus?
If we choose to help build the Kingdom, will we have enough to complete the job?
We all make poor choices at times; we all sin. If we start to build, we will not finish. Jesus is right; people will stand around laughing at us.
Just like they laugh at him.
We will be in the same group of people as Jesus.
Oh! A group of people.
We cannot build the Kingdom alone, but we can build it together.
We can build it with Jesus.
We can try. Perhaps the trying is important.
If we sin, we ask forgiveness and we start loving again.
Jesus cannot build the tower alone, but he gives it his all, and he invites us to build, too. We keep on building each day,