Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 6-26-16
Peace be with You,
Last week Jesus asked us a question: Who do you say that I am? We had arrived at a point where we could answer that question after witnessing the transformational power Jesus can have on our lives. Today, we find out just how pervasive Jesus desires this transformation to be within our lives.
Follow me, we hear Jesus call to some people as he travels along His journey to Jerusalem. The individuals hesitate, the latter saying, ‘I will follow you wherever you go, but let me go say goodbye to my family first;’ to which Jesus replies, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” We may ask ourselves, ‘isn’t this a harsh and uncompromising response from our Lord? After all, this person just wanted to go and say goodbye to their loved ones.’ We may wish to compare the response of our Lord to that of Elijah in our first reading; when Elijah calls Elisha, Elisha asks permission to have time to do the very same thing and Elijah relents. Why didn’t our Lord give this individual the same courtesy? The answer can be found in the actions of Elisha.
His request to go and say goodbye to his family granted, Elisha quits what he is doing immediately, and destroys everything that tied him to his previous way of life. This was no small thing for Elisha to do, we are told he was leading twelve yoke of oxen, a sign of the amount of work to be done and thus, the wealth of Elisha’s family. For Elisha, this is no hesitation, this action represents a definitive break with a former way of life. In other words, when called by the prophet Elijah to do the work of God, Elisha immediately becomes solely about this. Given the response of our Lord in the gospel, evidently this was not the intent of those to whom He spoke.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” To be pure of heart, put simply, means to be desirous about one thing, in this case growing closer to God. Jesus clearly tells us, it is those who are solely focused on this who will ultimately reach the destiny for which we all have been created, perfect communion with God. Jesus came precisely so that this might be made available to us, but He will not force Himself upon us, we all have a decision to make. What is your desire?
Your servant in Christ,