Homily – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

So, my friends; we are back to Ordinary Time with this Sunday, having walked through the Easter Season celebrating with Alleluias our praise for a God who has loved us beyond measure and one, in Jesus, who basically asks us to do the same.

We have celebrated along the way, Trinity Sunday, reflecting on a God who shows Godly goodness in three distinct ways—as Creator, Savior-Friend and Spirit of Jesus who walks continually with us throughout our lives.

Just last week, we contemplated, “The Body of Christ,” known to us, in a special way on the altar, but more importantly really, in our world, in each other, in all of creation.  For it has been said, “If we can’t find Jesus in the next person we meet, we really need look no further, because we won’t find him there either.”  So much mystery here, yet there is so much truth too.

Now today with our continuing of Ordinary Time; we discover once again that the Scriptures call us to anything but an “ordinary” response to life.  Each of the readings today are about “call”—the at times, urgency of it, but always, “the constancy” of it.

In the reading today from Kings, it seems that those called are cut a bit of a break in that, especially with Elisha, he can go home and finish up his affairs, say good-bye to his family, who in this Near Eastern world, are so important.  At this time and in this place, all security in their world was tied to their family.  But once that is done, Elisha is more than willing to follow Elijah.

In the gospel, we see more urgency in Jesus and must remember that his time is short—he is on his way to Jerusalem and for him and his would-be followers, the time is now!

So, are we to take Jesus literally here, or is there some wiggle-room in following his call?  I believe this is a time, looking at the entirety of the Scripture message, “that we be about love,” when Jesus is not telling us to be cruel to our families, “let the dead bury their dead,” but is more so saying that once we do say “yes” to being his follower; we are to be constant in carrying out our “yes,” through the ups and downs, much like a couple on their wedding day who says they will be in this, “for better or worse.”

We also see from the gospel, in its entirety, that everyone whom Jesus called didn’t follow the call in the same way.  Jesus called some to literally follow him around the region of Galilee and to carry that message beyond, while others were to serve him in place, in their homes—we think of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  So to us friends, through our life work, whatever that may be; we are called, each of us, to be our best selves, living moral, just, honest and good lives, serving others—caring for them, remembering to care for ourselves, as part of the equation, doing the right thing, doing what Jesus would do, when easy, but more so, when not easy.

I think of an example out of this past week as I participated in the first board meeting of the Winona Sheltering Network.  Following up on this idea of doing the right thing when easy or not so easy, one of the board members from one of the other Catholic churches in town, looked around the table,  saw another person and myself representing two of the other Catholic churches in town and asked why all the Catholic churches weren’t represented?  I answered his query by emphasizing what a difference it would make in the Catholic community if our bishop could come out publicly in support of this good work which includes, among other things, that of sanctuary and asylum for those needing either.

It was stated by another person that the bishop is in support of assisting immigrants to this country as he personally called the pastor of one of the Catholic parishes in western Minnesota who has declared their parish a sanctuary church to tell him that he supported his work among immigrants there.  Why not say that publicly and give Catholics all over this diocese permission, if they need it, but more so, the challenge, to do the same?  In my reading this past week; I came upon these words, “We are the Church, it’s time we acted like it!”

And certainly, I am not making light of the fact that this “standing up for others” will always be easy, for any of us, including the bishop, but I would expect that if a person is going to hold a position of leadership, then they had better lead or give up the position and let someone in there who will!

At this point in our journey of faith in this country, we face an urgency—just as Jesus did in his time, and it is for this reason that I criticize the bishop.  The time is now to do the right thing where immigrants on our southern border are concerned, the time is now to do something about gun violence in this country, the time is now to become a country once again that lifts up what is best in all of us instead of appealing to what is the worst, most selfish response to a world of suffering.

We need diplomacy, not angry rhetoric—we need understanding instead of war-like posturing.  Simply put, we need love instead of hate and the time for all of this is NOW!

Paul in his letter to the Galatians today, speaks of the guidance of Jesus’ Spirit.  Jesus told us that he would never leave us and the proof of that is his Spirit that is with each of us whenever we do that which Jesus calls us to do.  We will always be up against the human, man-made, (for the most part) laws that seek to control us, but we, as Jesus’ followers must always respond to the law that is written on our hearts—the law to love.

We can’t take our lead today from James and John who want to torch the town that is rejecting them.  We can never respond in like manner to those who have hurt and rejected us.  Our brother Jesus in today’s gospel didn’t reprimand the Samaritans for their rejection, but his own apostles for their lack of love. Amen? Amen!