Reflection for Sunday – June 26, 2016
Preacher: Lourdes Perez-Albuerne
Today’s reading from the Book of Kings and the passage from Luke’s gospel talk about the call that every human being receives and the conditions that are required to respond to that call.
Every one of us receives that call, which we refer to as “our vocation.” But when we receive that call and get ready to respond, many times we place conditions for our response. In the first reading the prophet Elijah is called by God to anoint Elisha as leader of the Israelites, but Elijah allows Elisha to go and say goodbye to his parents before fulfilling his mission. In the gospel passage Jesus meets three men who want to become His followers, but the three have conditions to fulfill this mission. Jesus, therefore, lets them know what the conditions are for being one of His followers.
But before we reflect on those conditions, let’s look at the beginning of this passage since it carries a great message that we still don’t seem to understand. Luke tells us that Jesus begins his journey toward Jerusalem. He knew about the risk he was taking but faithful to His mission of announcing and promoting the Reign of God, He does so without hesitation.
On his journey towards Jerusalem He had to go through Samaritan lands, and like any other itinerant preacher, He needed a place to sleep. No Samaritan offers him that place, which does not surprise Jesus at all since He knew He was not welcome in Samaria. The disciples following Jesus still do not understand the message Jesus is preaching and living; so two of them, James and John, ask Jesus to punish the Samaritans for their lack of hospitality.
Non-violence is one of the characteristics of Jesus’ message. But still now, 2000 years after His being on this earth, Christians, in fact all humans, continue to be trapped with the idea of a violent God, as it sometimes appears in the Old Testament, without following Jesus. We solve our conflicts both personal and global with violence. We need to understand that for Jesus, promoting the Reign of God means precisely eliminating all forms of violence on the earth between persons and/or countries. Therefore those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus need to be the messengers and actors of peace at every moment.
To follow Jesus is the core of the Christian life. In order to help us to understand this concept, Luke offers us these three small scenes so we can be conscious that for Jesus nothing can be more urgent than to build the Reign of God. It cannot be delayed.
Jesus requires three conditions in order to respond to His call to discipleship: total commitment, absolute decision, and total selflessness. Jesus does not look for lots of followers; what He wants are committed followers who do not have any hesitations, who have renounced false securities and who have made the necessary breaks with all that ties them.
Jesus tells the first young man that the road is not easy. He tells him that following Him is an adventure, that he will be required to “live on the road;” discipleship means renouncing all the comforts and securities of this world.
The second man receives a very harsh response to his request. Jesus wants him to understand that to follow Him, he must, as a priority, open roads that will promote the Reign of God and work toward a more human life for all. This takes precedence over the filial requirement, so sacred in the Jewish tradition, of burying his parents. To follow Jesus, there can be no conditions. As followers of Jesus, we must subordinate our personal priorities.
Jesus tells the third man that he must be ready to leave the past, that his sight should be on the future, that he must build God’s Reign here and now. To be co-workers in Jesus’ project requires total dedication; we must be forward looking without losing site of the end results; we must walk to the future without locking ourselves in the past.
All this should lead us to ask ourselves several questions: How do we respond to Jesus call? Are we free to follow him or do we put some conditions on fulfilling our vocation? If we call ourselves His followers, is our response immediate and unconditional?
The reflection of this Gospel passage leads us to examine if we are truly Jesus’ followers. Lets ask the good Lord and His Holy Spirit to give us the required strength and wisdom to be “real” disciples, not just followers in name. That way we can preach the Good News and build His reign not only by words but with our lives.