23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time


“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)

One of the comments I’ve received when I moved to St. Gerard’s in Baton Rouge to work for the next four years is “Fr. Tat, you will be close to your family. You can go to New Orleans every week to visit your Mom and your family.” That is true and not true.

It is true because yes, it is much more convinient to drive home to see Mommy in New Orleans. It takes me only one hour and 30 minutes. I will enjoy Mom’s food more easily compared with the last times when I stationed in Chicago and New York City.

But it is not true because I am a Redemptorist missionary. I belong to everyone. Wherever I am sent, I call it home for myself. Every parishioner is part of my family. I cannot go “home” to see my Mom whenever I want to. My Mom has sacrificed me for God and God’s people. She’s offered me to God to serve the Church since I entered into the Redemptorist formation in 1998.

The most difficult cross for those who want to follow Jesus is not about the cross of family but the cross of their own. Mom, Dad and family may pass on. But our own cross never goes away. It stays with us until we die. The late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan wrote in Road of Hope, “If you do not give up your own self, you will eventually collect everything you gave up back to yourself.”

Who wants to become Jesus’ disciple? To follow Jesus we need to dedicate our whole life and intention. There is no distraction. There is no “maybe” or “50-50” or “one day per week”. It takes daily practices and discipline. We do not need to go to seminary or convent to become Jesus’ disciples. You can be a great disciple of Jesus where you are and with the people you live and work. Be generous and grateful to all. May we all believe in Jesus and follow him.

– Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.