Sunday readings in brief 13 C 2022
1Kg 19:16,19-21; Ps 15(16), Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62
How to be a disciple
Dear friends, today is the thirteenth Sunday in ordinary time C. However, due to pastoral reasons, some episcopal conferences direct that the Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus that occurred last Friday, be marked today to give it more significance among the faithful. In this reflection, I will dwell on the Ordinary Time readings that focuses on the requisites for being a true disciple.
Discipleship means to be a follower of a person or an ideology. In our Christian context, discipleship means being a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a true follower of someone or of an ideal, one needs to make certain adjustment in his or her life such as, abandoning the previous dedications in order to concentrate on the new one. One cannot be a true disciple of more than one ideology. In one occasion Jesus said to his disciples that no one can serve two masters (Mt 6:24).
The urge to follow is aroused by an attraction towards what someone want to follow, or by invitation to follow. In the first reading, we hear how Elijah passed near Elisha and threw his clock to him. Suddenly, Elisha was full of the urge to follow him and he acted swiftly. In order to be free to dedicate his life to following Elijah, Elisha slaughtered the oxen that he used to plough the land and used the plough itself for firewood. This means that he was ready to abandon his previous trade and dedicate himself entirely to Elijah and his mission.
In the Gospel reading, we have three instances of people confronted by the reality of following Jesus. The first one request to be a follower of Jesus but immediately Jesus spells out to him the nature of his mission: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. The second one is invited by Jesus to follow him but he asks first to go to bury his father. We do not know if his father was dead at that moment but Jesus tells him to let the dead burry their own dead. This could also mean that he was willing to follow Jesus after the death of his father. The third one wants to follow Jesus but asks first to go and say goodbyes.
The question of true discipleship is determined by our priorities of life. Whatever comes first in the order of my priorities is my master, the rest are just but side businesses. We can apply this parameter to ourselves today in our dedication to following Christ. For instance, today is on Sunday and all those Baptized in Christ Jesus are obliged to go to worship in the Church with other faithful. However, many pews will be empty because many “baptized” are busy taking care of other things.
No matter what excuses and justifications we may give for not attending Church service on some or all the Sundays and other days of obligation, the truth remains that whatever it is we do on Sunday other that going to Church is our priority. This could be voluntary or imposed. Some people have to work on Sunday or else they risk losing their jobs. In this case, keeping the job is their priority. Nevertheless, some will only use this as an excuse because in many places, there are many Sunday services from very early in the morning to late in the evening. A true disciple will make efforts to attend one of those or even ask permission from the work place to worship and go to work. Instead of taking such opportunities to worship, other excuses like washing, cleaning and others takes priority.
St. Paul in the second reading is also warning those who have become followers about the quality of their discipleship. It is not enough to fulfill the minimum of a disciple such as ‘attending’ Church services on Sunday. It is paramount to adhere to all the terms and conditions of following Christ. The life of a follower must be conformed to that of the master. St. Paul is against double standard kind of discipleship whereby someone want to follow Christ and remain in former way of life at the same time. This is the greatest temptation of our discipleship today. Paul calls it self-indulgence; the dictionary defines it as “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims”.
Dear friends, there is no discipleship without sacrifices. It is either following Christ of being worldly; we cannot be both at the same time. This applies to all those consecrated to serve as religious and those consecrated to serve as lay people. I therefore invite us to reflect of the quality of our discipleship to Christ.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
Sunday readings in brief 13 C 2022