Bulletin: June 30, 2019
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s first reading, God tells the prophet Elijah to prepare Elisha to succeed him. Succeeding Elijah will be no easy task; he has spent his life facing threats from the kings he has confronted about their infidelity to the God of Israel. The psalm illustrates the emotional and spiritual distress that the prophets’ steadfast faithfulness to God brought them. Paul’s description of the Christian’s freedom from the law as opposed to “the desire of the flesh” puts this struggle at the very heart of Christian identity. The reading from Luke’s Gospel recounts Jesus’ decision to journey toward Jerusalem, where he knows he will meet his earthly fate. Following Jesus—like succeeding Elijah as prophet—will now become more difficult. Unlike his calls to the first disciples, Jesus encounters those who are not ready or are not strong enough to journey with him.
We are called
How do we know when we are being called by God? Sometimes a call is very clear: this is what we need to do. Other times a call may be less obvious, and it may take more time to discern such a call. What is certain is that each of us will be called, at different times and in different ways, according to our personal strengths and weaknesses.
While the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah were called in dramatic visions, Elisha’s call came with a simple but singular event: the prophet Elijah approached him as he was plowing and “threw his cloak over him” (1 Kings 19:19). Elisha immediately understood—this was a sign he was to follow Elijah and inherit his mantle as prophet.
We are familiar with how, at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called the fishermen to follow him and how they dropped everything to do so. The events in today’s Gospel happen much later, after Jesus has determined he is to go to Jerusalem, and—Luke informs the reader—there are already forebodings about his fate. Jesus is well enough known that some people approach him and want to go with him, but they are met with warnings about the difficulties that lie ahead. Others summoned by Jesus want to say good-bye to their families first; Jesus shrugs them off and continues on without them. The urgency of the task ahead demands immediate and total dedication.
How can you tell?
One of the ways the Spirit is constantly breathing new life into the Church is in the practice of spiritual direction. In addition to our personal prayer, spiritual directors can provide support for discerning the promptings of the Spirit in our lives. Benedictines, Dominicans, and Jesuits are known for their work in spiritual direction and in training others as directors. By now the Church is blessed with any number of priests, sisters, and lay people who help others discern and respond with the strength and dedication required to follow Jesus, wherever the journey may take us.
Today’s readings: 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19–21; Ps 16:1–2, 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11; Gal 5:1, 13–18; Lk 9:51–62