Today’s Thoughts: Elijah’s journey has not been an easy one. To fully understand today’s first reading, one would need to read all of Chapter 19 in the First Book of Kings which includes today’s story. Elijah being a prophet has struggled and fought against false prophets. He has dismissed his servants fled into the desert because his life is at risk. He has encountered a messenger from God. He has encountered God and been told by God to return and anoint several new kings and then we encounter today’s story. Elijah is to anoint Elisha as his replacement. We might say that Elijah has been a busy man.
Elijah’s comes to Elisha and throws his cloak over Elisha. The prophetic garment was a symbol of property rights. Elisha receives his state as both servant and possessor of Elijah’s powers of miracles. The communication is instantaneous but as often happens when God calls there are often discussion or reason why this is not the best time. This call of Elisha is no different. He has an excuse as to why he cannot respond right way. However, as also happens when God calls, Elisha gets the picture quickly, leaves his former ways and trustingly follows God’s invitation.
In the Gospel today we encounter several distinctive and important characteristics. It is literally a turning point in Luke’s Gospel. From this point on Jesus has turned toward Jerusalem where he will be lifted up on the cross and raised up after his resurrection. The word “resolutely” speaks of his determination to fulfill his identity as priest, prophet and king. From here, Luke presents Jesus as working slowly upward and directly to the city of Jerusalem. This provides the context for the next section of today’s reading.
The group travels into a village of Samaria where they are not welcomed. James and John ask Jesus if they should call down destructive fires on the Samaritans. Jesus rebukes them and they leave having better things to do as they journey. The dispute between Jews and Samaritans is about proper interpretation of scriptures and also about where exactly the proper place of worship is, in which territory has God truly appeared. We read about this in John’s Gospel. In the story of the woman at the well this struggle between the Samaritans and Jews is evident. Even then like now there is the battle for scriptural turf and possession of the truth.
In the third part of today’s Gospel we hear about call and response. Three people interact with Jesus and the disciples. Jesus presents them with the basic principles of being one of his followers. There is an invitation offered to face the tensions between selfishness and selflessness; between not wanting to let go and letting go and letting God. It is not easy because there are always healthy and normal desires for home and family. The Gospel ends with an image of perseverance. Jesus seems to be talking of himself as well as to those who wish to follow him. Faithfulness is never an easy journey.
Jesus stayed faithful to his being raised on the cross. He remains faithful to the ministry and the mission. Our faithfulness is not just to our own personal commitments, but to Jesus’ faithful commitment to being our Savior. Jesus saves us from ourselves, and our attempts at perfection.
Perhaps a few questions we need to ask ourselves are. How can we live with ourselves who so constantly are not content? To whom are we faithful? Our baptismal promises center around Jesus being our savior. Perhaps we just need to live with ourselves, because he does!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...