Ordinary 23rd Sunday

Wis. 9: 13-18                            Philemon 9, 10, 12-17               Lk. 14: 25-33



While planning is necessary for growth, this planning needs to be done in accordance with the divine intelligence.


Planning: A Pre-requisite for Success:

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” is an English proverb. Starting from our daily activities to running countries, there needs to be right planning and proper implementation of it. Lack of planning will lead to lack of growth. It is said that one of the main reasons for Napoleon’s success was his foresight planning. Once Napoleon’s troops were surrounded by his enemies. While the generals went in hurry to his place to discuss about the impending danger, Napoleon was in deep sleep. They were in a dilemma whether to awake him or not. At that time, they happened to notice a paper next to his cot and in it were found Napoleon’s instructions how to encounter the enemies in case they are surrounded. Much before the enemies surrounded him, Napoleon had a plan to deal with them.

In the gospel, Jesus talks about the need of planning in our lives. He gives the examples of building a house and waging a war. In both these activities, there needs a proper and detailed planning of resources – both material and human. A famous book The Art of War by San Tsu, has this to say about proper planning: “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general, who loses, makes but few calculations beforehand.”

If planning is a must in all walks of life, then Jesus points out that it is all the more a must in following him. Discipleship is not an arbitrary thing. It demands a careful planning of daily activities and a watchful awareness of inner disposition. This planning involves (a) a progressive detachment from all sorts of attachments and (b) readiness to carry our cross. If a person is not ready for these two demands, then there is no point in wishing to follow Jesus. It is like a person who does not have any money, but wishes to build a house.

Planning & Divine Intelligence:

Though it is important to have proper planning in our lives, care has to be taken with regard to the intelligence with which we plan. There are two kinds of intelligence available to us. One is the human intelligence and the other divine intelligence. When we do our planning with the aid of human intelligence alone, sooner or later we regret about our decisions and plans. Human intelligence, by its very nature, is limited and short-sighted, and so our plans are! Solomon says, “the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail.”

There was a nurse in America who worked in an old age home, where she witnessed a lot of people facing their death. She had the habit of asking these people this question: ‘In case, God asks you to re-live this life once again, will you live in the same way you have lived, or differently?’ It seems that about ninety percent of them answered that they would live differently. It is a clear indication that, at deathbed, they realized the futility of all their efforts, hard works and planning all of which emerge from human intelligence.

It is a fact that many of us, even after achieving our plans, continue to live the same old miserable life. It is because of limitedness and short-sightedness of human intelligence. Nothing worthwhile takes place when our plans emerge from human intelligence. There is a psychological discipline called ‘Neuro Linguistic Programme,’ which says that our brain quite often deceives us. NLP points out that our rational brain, by working on an available limited data,  misguides and misdirects us. On the contrary, if we allow the divine intelligence to guide us in our decision-making process, then our decisions and plans have got far reaching consequences.

A Way to inherit Divine Intelligence:

The first reading shows us a practical path to be in touch with divine intelligence (i.e. wisdom). It is by being in touch with the Spirit in us. “Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?” The book of Isaiah speaks about the gifts of the Spirit (Is 11: 2). There we read that the Spirit is the possessor of wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge. So when we are in touch with the Spirit, then we begin to possess His wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge.

St. Paul was a person who was guided by divine intelligence. He allowed God to guide his daily activities as well as the whole of his life. Even though his own original plan was to preach the gospel to his fellow Jews, being guided by the Spirit (i.e. divine intelligence), he began to alter his plan and preach the gospel to the gentiles. Thus he paved way for the expansion of Christianity among the gentiles. In his letter to Philemon too, Paul manifests his divine intelligence. By encouraging Philemon, the master, to accept Onasimus, a slave, as a brother in Christ, Paul invited him not to act according to human intelligence, but to divine intelligence. Indeed, one needs divine intelligence in order to see one’s slave as his/her brother in Christ.

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