JUNE 27,2004, 13TH SUNDAY
 HOMILY,1K 19:19-21; GAL 5:1,16; LK 9:51ff

WHEN THE DAYS FOR HIS BEING TAKEN UP WERE FULFILLED, JESUS RESOLUTELY
DETERMINED TO JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM. Today’s readings are taken up with the theme of vocation. Jesus himself is the model presented to all of us in the Gospel. He knew that going up to Jerusalem was to expose himself to hatred and death from his enemies. Yet, he resolutely determined to take that course for he knew it to be his Father’s will. From the beginning, St. Luke informs us, of his adult years, which for the Jews of his time began at the age of twelve, the Lord was conscious of responding to a very personal call of the Father in all his actions. “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”, he replied to his mother when she found him in the temple. Later, at Cana, when Mary approached him because the wine failed, the Lord told her his hour had not yet come. Now, however, he understands that the time draws near when he is to fulfill all the Father’s plan for the redemption of his people. This is the context in which Jesus is approached by various men who express the desire to follow him.

The Lord makes it clear to each that to become a closer disciple of his is to accompany him on a road that makes demands on the flesh. To one he points out that he will have to be willing to wander without a place to call his home; to another, he declares that preaching the kingdom must take precedence over duties even to one’s father; to a third, he points out the need for singleness of heart. He does this by referring to the call of Elisha by the prophet Elijah that was recounted in the first reading today.

Once called to follow him, one must not look back to earlier occupations and family ties, but resolutely leave behind all that distracts from the work of the kingdom of God. For each, to follow Christ is to accompany him as he whole-heartedly devotes himself to carrying out the Father’s will.

St. Paul also speaks to us today about vocation. He reminds us of the spiritual meaning of our call to follow Christ. Paul is a theologian whose task is to make clear the significance and implications of the word of God. Accordingly, he reminds the Galatians that to follow Christ is to live according to the Spirit and that means denying the desires of the flesh. He writes: “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of  the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other.”

He lists a number of instances that threaten the welfare of the community precisely because they are the work of the flesh. Among others he mentions dissensions, criticisms, forming private groups, envy. Those who fall into such behavior, he adds, will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then tells us in the next lines of this same letter, how the Spirit works in us. “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

As we here join together in celebrating this Eucharist, let us resolve to accompany Jesus more faithfully for the future by living in response to the Spirit who accompanies the Lord in this sacrament. May we put aside once and for all the jealousies and selfish desires of the flesh and thus witness to one another and to all those whom we encounter that the Spirit of Jesus still lives in his Church and effects in us that love, that patience and kindness that proclaims Jesus is Lord and is our hope of eternal life in the glory of God the Father.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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