“I will follow you wherever you go.”
ur Church has completed it’s Easter season and post-Easter season of Solemnities (Trinity and Corpus Christi). We now return to ordinary time, the numbered (ordinal) weeks between the high seasons of Easter and Advent. Our readings this Sunday focus on God’s call for us to follow him unconditionally, and our response to that call—it must be complete, full-hearted and now!.
In our readings, we hear disciples respond with, I will follow you, but not now, later.
Jesus responds with Not later; Now!
Our first reading from the First Book of Kings (1 KGS 19:16B, 19-21)
is the story of the Prophet Elijah being called to anoint Elisha as the prophet to succeed him. Elisha responded with, in a sense, Not just yet;
but then he slaughtered all his oxen, gave the meat away and followed Elijah.
The LORD said to Elijah: "You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you." Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you." Elijah answered, "Go back! Have I done anything to you?" Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
In our Epistle reading (Galatians 5:1, 13-18)
, St. Paul admonishes us to leave behind the things of the flesh, worldly enticements, and live in the freedom of the Spirit, serving one another through love.
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
In our Gospel reading (Luke 9:512-62)
, Jesus was making his final journey to Jerusalem to fulfill his destiny. On the way, he met people who wanted to follow him, but not just yet. Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury the dead”
(the spiritually dead—those who do not follow—bury their physically dead). In other words, There is no 'later', follow me now! You cannot serve two masters at the same time.
When the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." 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."
Jesus was resolutely on a mission! There was nothing to get in his way to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to bring it to fruition on earth through his passion, death and resurrection. There is no doubt that each one of us has been called by God to be his disciple, to let nothing in our lives come before serving the Lord and loving one another. There can be no distractions. What remains now, is how we discern and respond to that call. God will grant us the grace if we but ask.
- Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday