23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, September 8, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

9-8-19 (Spiritual Metamorphosis)

Jesus is harsh in today’s gospel.  He says we can’t be disciples unless we renounce our family, take up our cross and renounce all our possession.  Jesus is crystal clear that in order to be his disciple we have to be willing to die to self.  He makes it sound painful to be his disciple, and based on my feeble attempts it certainly is painful; but I would like to suggest that there is something beautiful about Jesus’ invitation to renunciation and dying to self.

Let me use an analogy (shocking, I know).  One of my latest areas of interest has been metamorphosis and the metamorphic process.  This week, thanks to some of our students, I have learned that caterpillars are created with certain cells that are predisposed to die during metamorphosis.  It’s called Programed Cell Death.  During the process certain cells have to die off in order for the caterpillar to become a new creation; a butterfly.  Now I think we can all agree that there is nothing wrong with a caterpillar, but we could also say that the caterpillar was created for so much more; to undergo metamorphic transformation and emerge as a beautiful butterfly able to spread its wings and fly.

Likewise, there is nothing wrong with just being a natural human being.  But we were created for so much more.  God has created us for a super-nature.  And unless we are willing to renounce some of the natural aspects and die to self, we will not be able to experience the transformation to something more.  We are invited to a sort-of spiritual metamorphosis into something supernatural.

I have also learned that caterpillars are equipped with certain pockets of cells that are fit to undergo rapid transformation in the metamorphic process.  We too are equipped for greater potential.  We were created in the image and likeness of God.  Through baptism our souls are sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  In the Eucharist we receive the living presence of Christ.  But in order for these to reach full flourishing, there needs to be a death to natural self in order for this super-nature to emerge from the spiritual cocoon of our hearts.  

Let’s be clear.  Jesus is not saying that there is something wrong with our natural humanity; our family, our habits and our natural possessions.  But God has created us for something more.  And unless we are willing to die to self in these natural areas, we will not be able to realize the supernatural life we were made for. 

If a caterpillar does not experience some cellular death then it simply remains a caterpillar crawling on the ground and on trees.  But certain cells dying off allow it to undergo transformation and it emerges as a new creation able to spread its wings and fly.  As Jesus says, if we do not renounce our natural possessions the we cannot become his disciples.  It may hurt.  It may be painful.  It may require dying to self.  But it is a beautiful invitation to undergo spiritual metamorphosis and emerge as a new creation.