Maybe you’ve heard the admonition, “Don’t start what you can’t finish.” This wise saying helps make sense of our somewhat disjointed Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus is talking to his followers about discipleship. First he advises that being his follower means “hating” one’s family and even oneself. Of course Jesus does not mean that literally, but rather that we need to prioritize following him within all our commitments, including our family life. We must make discipleship a real life goal. Two other discipleship requirements are also in this Gospel: carrying the crosses that discipleship will inevitably bring; and “renouncing” possessions — keeping greed, ownership, preservation, upgrading and every other kind of possession addiction in check.
These discipleship teachings are at the beginning and the end of the Gospel passage. In between are two mini parables. One is about how, if you want to build something, you need to plan ahead to obtain everything you need, or you won’t be able to finish it. The other parable is about how a warrior king better not engage his enemy if he doesn’t have enough troops. These are the “don’t start what you can’t finish” sayings. They are making the point that discipleship also needs planning ahead. Just the desire of wanting to be Jesus’ disciple, just enthusiasm, is not enough. How will we have the foundation we need? How will we have the endurance, not just for a discipleship moment but a discipleship life? How will we stay focused on Jesus? So this Gospel is asking me: What disciplines or spiritual practices help keep my own discipleship life on track? Do I have a discipleship plan? Am I sticking to it? Does it need revision?
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia