Sunday, 30 June 2019 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the whole theme of this Sunday’s Scripture passages, if we go through them again, is actually about being called to follow the Lord. We are all called to be His servants and followers, and because of that, the Lord wants us to follow Him wholeheartedly without being distracted or without being overshadowed by any other concerns in life. If we want to be God’s followers, we must be truly sincere and genuine.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the First Book of Kings in which God told Elijah, one of His faithful prophets to anoint Elisha, the one whom God had called and chosen to be the successor to Elijah. At that time, in the northern kingdom of Israel, the kings of Israel like Ahab had been very wicked and sinful, disobedient against God and led the people to sin by their pagan and idol worship and through their own decadence and wickedness.

The prophet Elijah was one among the very few prophets who were left to go against the wickedness of the king and the people. Surely we have heard of another story where the prophet Elijah went up alone against four hundred and fifty priests of Baal in Mount Carmel, where he alone went up against the multitudes of his enemies in the presence of the people, and God was with him, sending fire from heaven to prove that He and not Baal is the true God.

It was for this purpose that God chose and called Elisha to be the one to continue the many good works that Elijah the prophet had done earlier. It was in our first reading passage that Elijah came up to Elisha speaking to him about what God had willed and revealed to Elisha the responsibilities that he was about to undertake. Elisha responded with faith and dedication, and leaving everything behind, he followed Elijah and eventually became his successor.

Elisha would go on to perform many good works and glorifying the Lord in his own ways, obeying the commands and the will through which God has called him to do the many things that he has been sent to do. And the same calling has been made in our Gospel passage today, to the disciples whom Our Lord Jesus had called. When a man came up to the Lord saying that he wanted to follow Him, the Lord asked from him his commitment and sincerity in following Him.

Yet the man said that he still had matters that he wanted to settle and he wanted to go back to his family to say his goodbyes first. The Lord’s response to the man might indeed then seem to be quite harsh, as He said that those who look back and have second thoughts about following Him are not fit for the kingdom of God. But we have to understand the purpose and context in which Our Lord spoke those words.

What the Lord wanted the man, His disciples and all of us to know is that following God is something that each and every one of us must do seriously and with commitment. We cannot say that we want to follow God and yet we are divided and uncertain in our hearts and minds with regard to following Him. What He wants each and every one of us to know is that God must always be the first and foremost in our every thoughts and living moments, and we must learn to trust in Him rather than in our own human concerns and desires.

He did not mean by His words that we should leave behind our families and everything behind, as what the prophet Elisha had done when God called him to succeed the prophet Elijah. If every Christians were to leave behind everything and all of their families behind, then in the end, who would be left behind? Who will take care of the young and other members of the Church who need those who give them care and provision?

Rather, the Lord wants us to do our best in our own respective ways, wherever we are in our lives, so that in everything we say and in everything we do, we will glorify God and put His interests and obeying His will to the best of our abilities. To each and every one of us God has given unique and wonderful gifts that we must make good use of in order to be truly Christians in how we live our lives.

There are also of course those whom God had called to be His servants in the way that He has called the prophet Elisha and His Apostles, to leave everything behind and to commit themselves wholly to His cause. And these are those who have given themselves to the consecrated and holy lives, those who have responded to the Lord’s call and become His holy priests and servants.

We should pray for all of them and support them in whatever way we can, for their works are set up for them, and there are many challenges that they will have to face just as we also have our own challenges and trials to face in life. Let us all pray that God will give them the strength, the courage and the conviction to carry on their mission and their calling with all of their abilities even in the midst of persecution and challenges, just as the prophets Elijah and Elisha had done.

And for ourselves, let us all pray to God, that He will continue to inspire us and to be our source of strength, so that according to what St. Paul had written in his Epistle to the Galatians which is our second reading today, we may truly be free from the slavery of sin and from the bondage to our human desires and concerns, and walk instead faithfully and courageously in the way of the Spirit.

Let us all devote our energy, our time and effort to live righteously in God’s presence, doing whatever it is that He has taught and called us to do, that even through our own little ways and little contributions, we may be genuine and sincere in our faith and in our desire to follow God, with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, and not be distracted by the many concerns and temptations in life.

May the Lord guide us always, and may He continue to give us the encouragement and strength to live always in His grace and to walk in His path from now on, becoming good role models and inspirations for everyone around us, that our lives be truly exemplary and be shining examples of our Christian faith at all times. May God bless us all and our every endeavours from now on. Amen.

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