After a brief hiatus due to a ministry change I hope to post more regularly again.
Scripture Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
1 Kings 19: 16 – 21 Psalm 16 Galatians 5: 1, 13 – 18 Luke 9: 51-62
The call to follow is quite evident in today’s Readings: The prophet Elijah beckons Elisha by simply throwing his cloak over him; the Psalmist confidently proclaims, “You will show me the path of life . . .”; St. Paul exhorts his listeners to be guided by the Spirit; and Jesus, even as his death draws near, calls individuals to follow him.
It appears there is a very human response to these calls to follow; “I want to, but . . .” “But first I need to say goodbye . . . I need to take care of business . . .” I don’t know about you, however, when I say “I want to” then follow it by “but,” it means I don’t really want to. St. Paul knows this, “For the flesh has desires against the Spirit; and the Spirit against the flesh; so that you many not do what you want (Galatians 5).
There is a tendency to focus on the struggle, the sacrifice, the suffering that a choice may lead to; “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Luke 9). However, if we look deeper, the call to follow is about proclaiming the Good News, “But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ courage, joy, hope came from the message about God’s love and mercy he shared and lived. Yes, he eventually realized that this message would lead to the cross, but it is a message stronger, greater than death – so that he could be “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem . . .” and follow his call. “I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices . . . (Pslam 16).
Returning to the First Reading, we see the call – the cloak thrown around Elisha, we hear the response – “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” We then hear Elijah’s reply – “Go back! Have I done anything to you?” And the act of following – “Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.”
God clothes us with a cloak of love – love that calls forth a response. We may hesitate, we may say “I want to, but . . .” God always lets us choose and never forces us to follow. We must follow freely – not out of fear or suffering or sacrifice but out of love and joy and hope. We are reminded of Jesus’ words “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Suggested action: Listen to Make Your Home in Me
“Where there is love there is no fear
So make your home and residence here
I’m so alive when you are near
So make your home in me
Your burden’s light and your yolk is easy
Your name is love and your grace is free.”
Blessings on you and your week!