Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the reading, particularly the First reading from the First Book of Kings, we listened to the calling of those who had been chosen by our Lord and God. Those whom he had been chosen like Elisha were called, and were given specific trust on certain ministries that they have been entrusted with. Elisha was called from the fields and his oxen by Elijah, to be his successor, and continued the works of the prophet in the lands of the Kingdom of Israel.
We too have our calling, our vocations in life, and what they are depends on what the Lord has in plan for all of us. There are those among us called to be ministers of the Lord, in the same way as Elisha the prophet had once been called. Those of us who are called then, if we accept the calling, become priests, religious, deacons, and all the others who dedicate themselves fully to serve the Lord and minister to His people, while spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
One may think that Christ may sound very rough and impolite when He said that the dead should bury the dead, and one may also think that Christ is being rude when someone asked to first say goodbye to his family before following Him and was rebuked with the words that if someone turn back from their chosen or appointed duty, that person is not fit for the kingdom of God. However, there is in fact great truth inside what Christ had told us today as we heard in our Gospel reading today.
Indeed, in order to serve the Lord, and in order to minister to His people, we must not be half-hearted in our efforts and our work, and we must put all our hearts, all our minds, and all our beings into the works, and focus all of our attention on Christ. There must not be space for doubt or indecision in our hearts, or we risk evil to enter our hearts and corrupt our purpose, which may turn the very noble act of our ministry into something corrupted and hideous.
Well, one may say that this is just a one-time farewell, or a one-time thing, but we must not underestimate the power of evil, as little as that is compared to the power of the Lord, and the power of the world’s temptations and allures. Many had fallen into those temptations and could not keep up their commitment to the service to the Lord and His people, and ended up becoming a contempt to the faithful and a disgrace to the Lord and to the faith.
For we humans are weak, and we are naturally predisposed to temptations and human desires, desire for wealth, and desire for pleasure. If we do not have a hundred percent attention on the Lord, and if we do not put all our hearts and beings into the task ahead of us, not just for the case of the service to the Lord and God’s ministers, but indeed for any other occupations and careers, we must be entirely focused on what we are doing, or we risk mistakes and other flaws that may undermine our own credibility and trustworthiness.
Worse still for the servants of the Lord, because we are directly accountable to God for our actions, our words, and our deeds. When one especially has been called and had chosen to accept the calling and become one of the servants of the Lord, one must not be distracted by worldly concerns and desires. Not even one peek! Since even one peek would tend to corrupt our hearts and twist the true purpose of our ministry, even with just one attempt.
We often think that, ‘It’s only once, it won’t hurt, will not try it again anyway afterwards’, but there is no guarantee that after the first one we will definitely not do it a second time, a third time, or even become an addict. And for priests, religious, and servants of God, a very strict code of conduct must indeed be in place, for they have been marked and appointed as shepherds of God’s people, and shepherds cannot lead their flock unless they themselves have been proper in their conduct and behaviour.
The sheep follow the shepherd, and therefore, if the shepherd does something wrong, the sheep of the flock are bound to follow the actions of the shepherd. We who are called and chosen have to remember that we are responsible for God’s people and to the Lord Himself, in that we must make sure that we do not make any of God’s children, to fall into sin because of us. Remember that Christ greatly chastised those people who did so, “Better for those who let these little ones to fall into sin, to go into hell and be tortured there for eternity’. He condemned those who had misused their authority and abused people’s trust and God’s trust in them.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today pray for those called and chosen, for those priests, bishops, our Pope, and those in the religious orders, that they will remain faithful and steadfast in their faith and in their calling, that they will faithfully discharge the duties that the Lord had entrusted them, and lead the flock God had entrusted them with dignity, love, compassion, and determination.
Let us also pray for those who are aspiring to join the service of the Lord, and those who had been called, but had not made their decisions in their lives. Let us pray, that indeed, in the face of so many worldly temptations and allures, they can remain faithful to their faith and their calling. Let us pray that the parents of those who are called will not be stubborn and reject God’s call for the sake of their own selfish desire for their children. This is one of the main reason why so many did not end up follow their calling, because their parents and their families did not support God’s work by their rejection!
For parents, let’s be open-minded, and be open to the fact that one of your sons and daughters may be called by God to be His servants to serve His people, all of us, and instead of disgust and opposition, take that as a great opportunity and an honourable occasion. Not everyone is called, and not everyone is worthy, and as the parents of those who had been called, all of us should be proud of them instead, and support them to make a wise and carefully thought decision.
May the Lord therefore grant all of us strength and determination to persevere in our missions in life, to be a loving child of God, to be a loving brethren to our brothers and sisters in need, and to listen to God’s will. May the Lord be with all those whom He had chosen from among us, that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide them and strengthen their faith, resolve, and dedication to their respective ministries. God bless us all. Amen.