Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant. 1 Kings 19:21
For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. Galatians 5:13
Prayer for Charity and a Preferential Option for the Poor
By Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB
Please take the bread. It is yours.
The house with running water belongs to you.
A plot of land, a dignified job – all yours.
Forgive me for offering it.
Charity is not substitute for justice but your children are hungry now.
Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.
Break them wide open
Let anger pour through like strong winds cleaning us of complacency,
Let courage pour through like spring storms flooding out fear.
Let zeal pour through like blazing summer sun, filling us with passion.
Force of Justice, grant me anger at what is, courage to do what must be done, passion to break down the walls of injustice and build a land flowing with milk and honey for God’s beloved, God’s special love, God’s Poor Ones.
Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.
A: Be freely obedient to God.
Sounds simple enough. Although God created us and calls us, he does not enslave us to his law or to any of the gifts that he has given to us. His gift to us is freedom…including the freedom to choose to be obedient or not.
Today we find the conflict between the gift of freedom and the call for obedience at its height.
First is the command, the very expectation for total and immediate obedience and its rewards. We might consider perfection of that in modern times reserved for the clergy and those espoused to religious life in faith communities of women and men. But, the call for obedience extends to the laity as well (like it or not).
The example of Elisha leaving his family, destroying his earthly possessions and distributing those goods among his people is just one more example of perfect obedience that we learn through sacred readings. Certainly Mary and Jesus were the prime examples. Abraham and Noah were others. Last Sunday, the Good News also shared the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah initially doubted the call of the angel announcing the pending birth of a son and his naming. For this doubt, Zechariah was stricken with a temporary blindness until he followed the commandment of God delivered by the angel.
According to the notes to the NAB translation, Elijah's act of throwing his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha expressed the divine call to share the prophetic mission. Elisha's prompt response through destruction of his plow and oxen is an example of total obedience and detachment from his former manner of living in order to promote the glory of God.
Paul elaborates on what believers are called to do and be: they fulfill the law by love of God and the love of neighbor. The gifts of the Son and the Spirit are further proof that God did not send us down here with total freedom and no help against the forces of sin, evil and temptation that seek to enslave us to something opposed to the unconditional love of God.
All this prepares us for the severity and unconditional nature of Christian discipleship. Just as God’s love for us has no bounds, our love for God also should not face any limits. Just as resolutely as Jesus sets out for
The demand of Jesus overrides what both the Jewish and the Hellenistic world regarded as a filial obligation of the highest importance.
“Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the
Our journey to the New Jerusalem is a journey of hope. As Henri Nouwen reminds us: “Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory.”
Just as Elisha freed himself from the twelve oxen, from what comfort zone do you have to free yourself in order to enter the unknown and fearful territory of hope?
Happy Half-New Year’s Day!
The joy of the new summer season, a new month and vacations and new experiences ahead hold out much promise for us. However, today, Jesus is addressing each one of us in his declaration in today’s Gospel and that message is stern and serious.
As he sets out for
But you, Christians…
But you, the living…
But you, the faithful…
But you, my sisters and brothers…
But you, my friends…
“Go and proclaim the
That is what Jesus did and that is what he expects us to do if we are to truly madly and deeply love Him, honor Him and obey Him from this day forward.
Today is July 1. This is the first day of the second half of the year 2007. How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Maybe this is an ideal day, considering the calendar and the Good News to revisit those resolutions. You still have the rest of the year and the rest of your life to make this a reality.
What are your resolutions for this Half-New Year’s Day?