June 26, 2022, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21 Galatians 5:1,13-18 Luke 9:51-62
There are days when the liturgical readings do not, at first glance, do much for me. In fact, there are days when I would really prefer that those who put the lectionary together had chosen something else. Today is one of those days. However, over the seven-plus decades of my life, I have learned that, when the readings don’t appeal to me, I should take a closer look - for surely the Lord has a message or two for me - and most likely it is a message I really need to hear.
Our three readings are tied together beautifully today with images of yokes, slavery, immediacy, and spirit vs. law.
In the reading from 1 Kings, we hear about God’s call to Elijah - that he should go and anoint Elisha to be his successor. Almost immediately, and without question, Elisha answers the call.
His prompt response is indicated by the fact that he slaughters his oxen and prepares a meal for his workers, so that he can be on his way. Moreover, his actions indicate that he is “all in” regarding his commitment to follow his anointed call. He destroys those things which have provided the means for his livelihood and sets out in his new role as a prophet.
In the gospel, we find a similar situation, in that some who are interested in following the Lord’s call find reasons to hesitate. Albeit, they seem like significant reasons, good reasons. However, Jesus makes it clear that, when we hear the call of the Lord, we must be careful not to let other things get in the way, lest we become distracted and eventually lose our way. The examples he uses here are extreme. But remember, with his knowledge of Hebrew Scripture - a knowledge that was shared (at least in part) by many who were associating with him - he could use this parallel literary structure to make a powerful point concerning the immediacy of the call to follow the Lord.
The excerpt from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is a wonderful bridge between the first reading and the gospel. Paul’s reference to the “yoke of slavery” is an added caution for the people of his time…a caution not to let slavery to such things as money, power or the many laws of their religion, get in the way of the freedom they (and we) must embrace, if we are to be willing to act in charity and in love. Once again we are reminded that the essence of the law is to be found and followed by loving…loving God, by also loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Lots to think about in these readings. Lots to pray about. Taking a second look at readings I don’t initially care for can be very rewarding - but also very challenging!
by: Bill Miller