Homily for thirteenth Sunday year C24 Jun 2016, by Sermons in
This morning we read about prophet Elisha’s call, the son of Shabbat of Abel Meholah, to take over from the prophet Elijah; the call was dramatic. The prophet Elijah was sent to anoint Elisha as his successor, but he went to him and threw his cloak on Elisha, and Elisha recognize the call of God in that simple action. The call of God is something. Therefore, one must discern because there are so many voices calling today. No wonder Jesus said his sheep knows his voice; they would not follow another.
At baptism, we all had the cloak or the garment of faith thrown over us just as Elijah threw his garment over Elisha. A piece of white cloth was placed on us when we were baptized, or at least we were dressed in white to signify our purification and our call to the life of grace; we renounced the devil and his agents to be anointed for the glory of God just as God sent the prophet Elijah to anoint Elisha. We were all called at baptism to be sons and daughters of God, to proclaim the forgiveness and salvation available in God through Christ Jesus. We share in the prophetic call of Elisha; our baptism makes us prophets. A prophet is not one who foretells the future but the mouthpiece of God, one who proclaims the message of God, and that is what we are baptized to do. Just as Elijah threw his cloak on Elisha, so also Christ throws his cloak on us at baptism, calling us into the royal priesthood.
In our gospel reading today, Jesus met with three different would be disciples. The first approached Jesus to indicate his interest in following Jesus, but he made him understand the nature of his mission, that to follow him is to have nowhere to lay head; he probably withdrew.
Jesus calls the second would-be disciple to come to follow him, but he wanted to bury his dead father first before following Jesus, which is a very human and natural thing to do. The same is true of the third person; he too was called to follow but wanted to say goodbye to his family first. The three would-be disciples remind me of the homily I preached in one of the wedding ceremonies I officiated at; I told the congregation that marriage is a vocation to which the mature are called and those ready and willing. So also, in the prophetic call, one has to be ready and willing. The couple must be mature, ready, and willing to live together in good and bad times, to face the joys and challenges of marriage together. I said to them that it is not enough to be of marriageable age, but one must be ready and willing. In the prophetic call, one has to be ready and willing. We see a reflection of this readiness and willingness in the three would-be disciples.
The first person Jesus met on his way to Jerusalem was ready to follow Jesus; in fact, he called himself, he approached Jesus to express his desire to follow him. When Jesus told him that there would be no place to lay his head, he probably gave up. This would be a disciple who was ready to follow but not willing. This is very true; he was ready to follow Jesus but not willing to risk his life for Jesus and his gospel. For the other two, one wanted to bury his father first, while the other wanted to say goodbye to his people before following Jesus. They were both willing to follow and risk their lives for Jesus but not ready at that moment. They were still very tied to their families; blood is thicker than water, they say. It is also said that the waters of baptism that made us sons and daughters of God are thicker than blood; this is not a call to disconnect from our families but to learn to price Christ higher and above everything. Jesus is not looking for followers, but believers, many people may follow, but only a few are believers. Many people come to Church on Sundays, but how many remain with Jesus when there is nowhere to lay head? At the point where there is nowhere to lay head, some would want to withdraw from God for a moment, to put God on hold. They would want to withdraw to say “goodbye,” “to bury the dead,” to run away, or for any other reason. Nothing should stop us from following Christ Jesus with faith, whether there is a place to lay our heads or not.
On his way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans tried to stop Jesus by not allowing him and his disciples to pass through their city. Even Peter, at a point, tried to stop Jesus from facing the cross, but he said to the force speaking through Peter to get behind him. In the same way, there will be many attempts to stop us from following Jesus; things will happen that will shake and weaken our faith but let us remain strong in the Lord even when weakness invades the flesh. We have been called as Christians through our baptism to be prophets of God, to proclaim the goodness of God, and anyone who looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.