June 30, 2019 • Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19–21
Psalm: Psalm 16:1–2, 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11
Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13–18
Gospel Acclamation: 1 Samuel 3:9; John 6:68c
Gospel: Luke 9:51–62
The readings for this Sunday are about us putting all our eggs in the Lord’s basket and serving Him and others wholeheartedly in love and by the Spirit.
And to tell you the truth, passages like these cause me to wrestle as a man who has decided to pursue the vocation of marriage and family. My wife and I are now helping some of our kids with child care for our grandkids in an expensive metro area.
Sometimes it seems to me like the Bible and the Christian life and following Jesus are better geared for single folks who can give themselves wholly to the Lord. But even they still have their aging parents to care for eventually, and the Bible says we are supposed to do so.
I have always served in my churches and parishes in many ways: preaching, teaching, giving, administration, leading worship, altar serving, lectoring, catechizing, evangelizing and distributing communion. Sometimes I have served too much, in combination with a demanding “tentmaking” career, to the detriment of my family.
Has anyone else wrestled with this? I’m sure I am not the only one. Perhaps this Sunday’s readings will give us some clues.
The First Reading is about Elisha being called by God through Elijah. Elisha is out farming, plowing a field, when Elijah comes up and throws his cloak over him. Elisha knows Elijah, and that the cloak thing means he is to follow Elijah into the prophetic ministry. So he runs after Elijah asking him for permission to kiss his parents goodbye and receives it. As he does so, he also destroys the tools of his former occupation, the plow and oxen, and uses them to fix a meal for his people.
No prophet has ever thrown his cloak over me and indicated that I was to follow him, so I guess I’m off the hook there. Elisha’s call was unique. Although David Emery did ask me to be a moderator on the old CHN Forum, and now in the CHN Community, so I guess he is Elijah and I am Elisha in that sense?
The Responsorial Psalm gives us a further clue. In it we see a person for whom the Lord is everything; He is a conscious choice on the psalmist’s part. But living life is a partnership with God being the lead, and as I read this psalm, it sounds an awful lot like my journey into the Catholic Church. Learning to trust God, trying to find refuge in Him and keep Him ever before my eyes. Gaining a growing realization that I am totally dependent on God for all of life, and that He really does come through, no matter what — although often not in the way I was expecting. He has led me to the Catholic Church, where I have found the path to life and the fullness of joy.
Let’s see what the Apostle Paul has to say in the Second Reading. He says that Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order to serve one another through love and to live by the Holy Spirit. How do we do this? By availing ourselves of everything Jesus provides us through His Church.
Our flesh and its desires, we are talking concupisence here, wanting to go in the opposite direction to the Spirit and lead us back into slavery to sin. Please read what the Catechism has to say about this in Article 9 on the Ninth Commandment. Here’s the link: Catechism of the Catholic Church , where there are some important distinctions made about the flesh.
The Gospel Acclamation combines Samuel’s response to the Lord’s call on his life in the temple with the reason the disciples couldn’t leave Jesus in John 6. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.” So we need to keep our spiritual ears open as we pray, and our physical ears open as we hear God’s word read and preached, so we can hear Jesus speaking the words of eternal life to us.
In the Gospel reading, we see Jesus doing and saying the following things:
- He rebukes James and John for their judgmental attitude towards some inhospitable Samaritans, who refused to put them up for a night. We are even to love our enemies and people who are unkind to us.
- Jesus makes it clear that sometimes following Him can lead to homelessness, just as He was homeless, which has been the case for the author of a Journey Home written conversion story appearing in a recent CHN newsletter.
- Jesus sometimes issues a call that can’t wait, and we ultimately have to trust Him to provide for our loved ones.
And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
These readings show that, where He leads, we need to look, listen and follow, regardless of whether He has us living a more conventional life or He is interrupting our lives, taking us on an adventure.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.”