The examples Jesus uses may be multiple, but his teaching is the same: the one who begins an important project rashly, without studying ahead of time if he has the means and the energy to accomplish what he intends, runs the risk of ending up with a disaster on his hands.
No builder plans on constructing a tower in order to protect his vineyard, without first taking the time to calculate if he can finish it successfully, or else the project remains unfinished, provoking his neighbors’ ridicule. No ruler decides to enter into combat with a powerful enemy, without first analyzing if that battle can end in victory or if it would be suicide.
At first look, it could seem that Jesus is inviting us to a prudent and cautious behavior, far from the boldness with which he ordinarily speaks to his disciples. Nothing could be further from reality. The mission that he wants to commend to his followers is so important that no one should commit self to it in an unconscious, fearful or presumptuous way.
His warning covers a lot of area in these critical and decisive times concerning the future of our faith. Jesus calls, above all, to a mature reflection: the two protagonists of the parables «sit down» to reflect. It would be a grave irresponsibility to live today as disciples of Jesus who don’t know what they want, or where they hope to get to, or by what means they should be working.
When are we going to sit ourselves down to gather our energies, reflect together and seek out the path we should all be following? Don’t we need to dedicate more time, more listening of the Gospel and more meditation in order to discover God’s call, awaken charisms, cultivate a renewed style of following Jesus?
Jesus also calls us to realism. We are living through an unprecedented socio-cultural change. Is it possible to spread faith in this new world that is being born, without knowing it well or without understanding it from within? Is it possible to facilitate access to the Gospel by ignoring the thinking, feelings and language of men and women of our times? Isn’t it wrong to respond to today’s challenges with yesterday’s strategies?
It would be reckless in these times to act unconsciously or blindly. We’d be exposing ourselves to disaster, frustration, even ridicule. According to the parable, the «unfinished tower» does nothing except provoke mockery by the people toward its builder. We mustn’t forget Jesus’ realistic and humble language that invites his disciples to be «leaven» in the midst of the people, or a pinch of «salt» that give new flavor to people’s lives.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf