June 26, 2022, The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: Determined Discipleship
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). This is the Great Commission. The reason that you are a Christian today is because believers before you took Jesus’ directive seriously. In a sense, the Body of Christ is one big daisy chain of disciple makers starting from Pentecost up to today. The future Church also depends on our faithfulness in this calling. We lay people need to realize the significance of our part in building the Kingdom of God and not just leave it to the officially ordained. The Lord will also demand an accounting of our lives in this endeavor. We have to decide whether we want to be merely churchgoers or commit to being good and faithful servants. It will determine our future role in heaven…it’s that important!
Examine yourself. In our gospel reading today (Luke 9:57-62) we see three types of men and their failed responses to Jesus’ call to follow Him. First, we see the comfortable man (vs57-58). This guy steps up and volunteers. Jesus warns him about letting his mouth write checks that his body can’t cash. Count the cost! Our Savior, Himself, calls another man to follow Him (vs. 59-60). Apparently, it’s inconvenient. “I would, Jesus, but my plate’s pretty full right now. Can I take a rain check?” Our Lord admonishes him to get his act together and his priorities straight. Still another volunteer comes forward (vs. 61-62). He lacks focus and commitment to the task. In effect, the Master tells him to stay out of the game if he can’t go all in. Hardships! Priorities! Commitment! If you lived back then and Jesus walked up to you with His twelve men behind him and said, “Hey, I could use another.” what would you do? Don’t think about it all that long. You’re living your answer right now! The question is: should you change?
Our prophet Elijah is ready to finish his ministry and hop on the heavenly chariot. God tells him his successor will be Elisha. In our reading, 1 Kings 19:16-21, He finds Elisha plowing a field. Elijah throws his coat on Elisha, thus telling him that he has a new job as God’s mouthpiece and at the same time creating the colloquial expression: “Passing the mantle”. Let’s look at Elisha in the light of a good disciple. He’s plowing with a 12 double yolk oxen team, which means that he’s a rich guy that’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, conclusion: a hard worker with character. Verses 20-21 show that he is: ready (says goodbye to parents), committed (burns the plows and slaughters the oxen), generous (gives everything away), and humble (becomes a servant). Absolutely the kind of boy you want your daughter to bring home! Let’s challenge ourselves with his example.
Galatians 5:13-18 shows us that disciples have to develop a new way of thinking. On your own, you just don’t have what it takes to be a God pleasing servant. The sin in you is just too strong. When you confess Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit will take that faith and plant it into your daily life. The Father wants you to be a replica of His Son on this earth and it’s done in the Spirit’s power. He will teach you to love your neighbor. He will give you the desire to really want to do good and to shun sin. He will lead you in the truth of God. You will no longer be a slave to your lusts, but a servant of virtue! Not overnight, it’s a struggle. Work with Him. Walk in Him. Be confident that, “He who began a good work in you will complete it in Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
A disciple needs discipline to mature in their faith. We not only have a new life to lead, but the message of the Gospel to proclaim! It has to be done right. Just like an athlete in training, the disciple needs devotional time in the Bible, prayer, and fasting. So, get up earlier, stay up later, or carve out time as you go through your day. Switch from secular to religious radio, podcasts, and TV programs and sacrifice that Netflix binge watch. Whatever you have to do to fit God into your schedule, do it! These spiritual pursuits are necessary in order to grow in grace, love and maturity in Jesus Christ. There will be rejection along the way. It’s always been like that. Look at Luke 9:51-56 when the Samaritan village did not want the Lord coming through their town. Expect it. Don’t take it personally. Love them and move on to spread the gospel to others.
In Jesus, God has placed His mantle call on us. Discipleship requires an Elisha commitment and total surrender to His will. Psalm 16 is David’s declaration of his trust in the Lord and his rightful expectation of God’s instruction, guidance, provision, and presence for him in this life. Let us press on to our high calling as Christ’s disciples and become disciple makers in the process. Let us play our part in creating the next generation of saints. What are you doing that is more important than that? Be done with lesser things. Jesus is calling! Go!