Saturday, June 25, 2016

6-26-2016 -- 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

June 26, 2016 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Elisha makes a living as a farmer. We encounter him in the first reading today as he is plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. That’s 24 oxen. While he is still quite young, he comes from a rather wealthy family of farmers.

Elijah, the prophet of God, throws his cloak upon the young farmer, Elisha. There is no doubt as to the meaning of this gesture. Elisha is being called by God to succeed the prophet Elijah.

He begs Elijah to wait for him while he goes to say goodbye to his family. Here is that moment of decision: go back home or follow?

Elijah already knows there is a high cost to pay for being the prophet of God. It’s almost as if he is saying to the young naive Elisha, “Run! Go back while you still can. Run fast. Run far.”

What will Elisha do? It’s decision time. His response is radical. He takes those 24 oxen which represents his very livelihood and slaughters all of them. Then he uses the wooden plow to build a fire to cook the oxen and give to his family to eat.

Elisha is past the point of no return. There is no turning back now. He is already beginning to pay the price of discipleship.

In the gospel there are three would-be disciples who are not nearly as committed as Elisha; they are not quite ready to pay the price.

The first has not considered the hardships associated with discipleship. He’s all talk but when Jesus says there is no security and no place to lay your head, he hesitates.

In other words, with Jesus, our citizenship is in heaven and the only home we are guaranteed is our heavenly home.

The second receives the call to follow. She wants to fulfill her family responsibilities first. But for Jesus, answering the call means placing God first, above all else.

The third is still too attached to family. Jesus points out that the call to follow must have primacy. Once we set out, there is no turning back. This is difficult and we are often half-hearted.

Jesus is really saying the same thing as the prophet Elijah. Think before you decide to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Discipleship involved hardship, commitment, self-sacrifice, courage and stamina.

If we are half-hearted about following Jesus, then maybe it is better for us not to begin the task at all. Or maybe we should try harder to do right.

Our call to follow the Lord certainly won’t be as dramatic as the call of the prophet Elisha. And our response probably won’t be as dramatic either. But today we are challenged to count the cost of discipleship and make a choice.

We are called to follow even if we run the risk of being laughed at or made fun of because of our discipleship. We are called to follow even when it means that we must give up something we like because we know in our hearts it’s not right. We are called to follow even when we’d rather do something else.

For most of us, the call comes as a persistent inner prompting
that can be easily drowned out by other things: money, power, security, fame, peer pressure, anxiety.

Or maybe we are drowning in technology, the internet, our iPhones and tablets, so that we are too distracted to even notice that the cloak has been thrown upon us.

But the cloak has been thrown upon us. Are we ready to follow?

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