1 Kings 19: 16, 19-21; Galatians 5: 1, 13-18; Luke 9: 51-62
Dear friends! Saturday morning three deacons were ordained as priests. So we have 3 new priests in our diocese. That is a good news for us. Sad news is since I was away yesterday; I don’t have a joke for you this morning. Today’s readings are about God’s call and man’s commitment to answer that call. They ask for total commitment in total freedom with the spirit of patient love, saying an unconditional ‘Yes’ to Jesus and to the Christian life as a true disciple of Christ.
The first reading describes how Elisha committed himself whole-heartedly to answer God’s call to be a prophet, in spite of his initial hesitation when God called him through the prophet Elijah. Elisha’s initial response was, “Please, let my kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” Elijah replied, in effect, “Why are you giving me excuses? I’m not the One calling you!” Elisha accepted the rebuke, and to show his repentance and total commitment to God’s call, he slaughtered the twelve yoke of oxen he had been using for his plowing, cooked their flesh (using the yoke and harness as fuel), and gave the meat as a meal for those who depended upon him. Elisha – who became Elijah’s successor – left everything behind him and committed himself to his prophetic role.
In today’s Gospel we find; three enthusiastic men want to follow Jesus not only for a journey, but for life. The first man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Why did Jesus say that? Probably because he perceived that here was a man who valued financial independence and security. It is a good thing to have high economic goals so that one could provide adequately for oneself and for those under one’s care. Yet when this stands in the way of wholehearted following and service of God, then something is wrong.
The second man replied, “Let me go and bury my father first.” After his father dies he will come up with the excuse, “With the bread winner dead I have to look after the family.” He has missed Christ’s call to duty. He asked his disciples to put him first, even before the most demanding family ties. Christ’s call is radical, without “ifs” and “buts”. Perseverance in commitment to the Master is to be the hallmark of Christ’s disciple. When the third man said to Jesus that he would follow him, but first he had to go to his people to say goodbye, Jesus replied: “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
The three enthusiastic men of today’s Gospel are living in many families around us. They are suffering from a disease called “Nearsightedness, or myopia” which gives them a love for Christ minus the Cross. They go with Christ and follow Him to Calvary. They are attached to Christ but lack detachment from the comfort of family life. They follow Christ but stop when the going is tough. They look back and fail to see Christ leading them to Calvary and the Cross.
As disciples of Jesus we are called to share in the cross of Christ, so that we can share also in his rewards. Leave out the cross and you have killed the religion of Jesus. If we want to be free to serve the Master, then we must remember that freedom battle was won on the cross.
We need to pray for strength to honor all our commitments. We are here this morning because, in one way or another, we have said to Jesus, “I will follow you.” But the truth of the matter is that most of us don’t want to follow Jesus because we want him to follow us. Hence, we are only partially faithful to him. But the good news is that we are following him as best we can. We will leave this hour of Eucharistic worship and return to the world with all sorts of tough choices and difficult demands. Hence, we need to pray for strength, we need to ask for forgiveness when we fail, and we need to renew our determination to walk with Jesus by being loyal to our spouse and family, earning our living honestly, and living not only peacefully, but lovingly, with our neighbors.
“The U.S. Supreme Court decision June 26 is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.