The 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln remains evergreen in the minds and hearts of not just Americans but of people of the entire world. He’s not remembered only for his exceptional performance in administration as president but moreso as the gem or brain behind the success of his father’s company, Filene’s Department Store. He was president of America for just four years, but he has no rival. This great man believed in one thing – PLANNING . There’s a popular saying attributed to him: Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

The success story of Abraham Lincoln sums up the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel reading of today. For anyone, in any field or sphere of life, engaging in any endeavour or embarking on any project to succeed, one must take time to plan. Jesus uses the analogy of a king who goes to war and a builder who builds a house to drive home his message on the cost of discipleship: “no one who loves his/her father, mother, family members, spouse, relatives and friends, or anyone else more than me can have any share in my kingdom, and unless you carry the burden of your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple and consequently have no part in the grace and inheritance God has promised through Christ, His Son.

What the Lord told the people did not mean that He asked them to abandon everyone and love Him alone, as people easily misunderstand the true meaning and purpose of what He had said. In truth, through these words, the Lord is reminding each and every one of us His faithful, that we must not forget that God must be first of all and first in our focus, attention and love. And if we love God, then we naturally will also love all those whom God had loved, that is our brothers and sisters.

This love of God is the motivational element that inspired St. Charles Borromeo, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, great Reformer of the Church, a paragon of faith and virtue, the patron of Catechists in his many contributions especially in his efforts in spearheading the Counter-Reformation within his diocese and beyond as an influential adviser to the Pope and the Roman Curia.

St. Charles Borromeo, despite his great influence and power at that time, was however a humble person, who cared for the people of God and spent his life in reaching out to them. St. Charles Borromeo loved God above all things, and at that time, when many of the clergy and also laypeople were corrupted by the excesses of worldly wealth and glory, St. Charles Borromeo chose the Lord’s path, to be his path. He dedicated himself to the people whom God had entrusted to him, showing just how he loved God first and greatest of all, and then he showed the same love to his brethren as well, and not putting or allowing his selfish desires and the temptations to sin to distract him. It was told that he tried his best to feed his flock when a great famine struck Milan and its surroundings, and the holy man of God devoted much of his effort to care for the most needy. Are we able and willing to follow in the footsteps of St. Charles Borromeo, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we want to follow Christ the planning must start right now because, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. May St. Charles Borromeo intercede for us today, and always!



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