Like a king making ready for battle or a contractor about to build a tower, we have to count the cost as we set out to follow Jesus.

Our Lord today is telling us upfront the sacrifice it will take. His words aren’t addressed to his chosen few, the Twelve, but rather to the “great crowds” — to “anyone,” to “whoever” wishes to be his disciple.

That only makes his call all the more stark and uncompromising. We are to “hate” our old lives, renounce all the earthly things we rely upon, to choose him above every person and possession.

Again he tells us that the things we have, even our family ties and obligations, can become an excuse, an obstacle that keeps us from giving ourselves completely to him (see Luke 9:23–26, 57–62).

Jesus brings us the saving wisdom we are promised in today’s First Reading. He is that saving wisdom.

Weighed down by many earthly concerns, the burdens of our body and its needs, we could never see beyond the things of this world, could never detect God’s heavenly design and intention. So in his mercy he sent us his Spirit, his wisdom from on high, to make straight our path to him.

Jesus himself paid the price for to free us from the sentence imposed on Adam, whom we recall in today’s Psalm (see Genesis 2:7; 2:19).

No more will the work of our hands be an affliction, no more are we destined to turn back to dust.

Like Onesimus in today’s Epistle, we have been redeemed, given a new family and a new inheritance, made children of the father, brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We are free now to come after him, to serve him, no longer slaves to the ties of our past lives. In Christ, all of our yesterdays have passed. We live in what the Psalm today beautifully describes as the daybreak of his kindness, for he has given us wisdom of heart, taught us to number our days aright.

Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology,

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