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.

Sunday, 30 June 2019 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 51-62

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

As they went on their way, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” To another, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said to him, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Sunday, 30 June 2019 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 5 : 1, 13-18

Christ freed us, to make us really free. So remain firm, and do not submit, again, to the yoke of slavery.

You, brothers and sisters, were called to enjoy freedom; I am not speaking of that freedom which gives free rein to the desires of the flesh, but of that which makes you slaves of one another through love. For the whole Law is summed up in this sentence : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. But if you bite and tear each other to pieces, be careful lest you all perish.

Therefore, I say to you : walk according to the Spirit and do not give way to the desires of the flesh! For the desires of the flesh war against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh. Both are in conflict with each other, so that you cannot do everything you would like. But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law.

Sunday, 30 June 2019 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever.

Sunday, 30 June 2019 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 19 : 16b, 19-21

God said to Elijah, “And Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”

Elijah left. He found Elisha, son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me say goodbye to my father and mother; then I will follow you.”

Elijah said to him, “Return if you want, do not worry about what I did.” However, Elisha turned back, took the yoke of oxen and slew them. He roasted their meat on the pieces of the yoke and gave it to his people who ate of it. After this, he followed Elijah and began ministering to him.