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13th SUNDAY -C- June 30, 2019

I Kings19: 16, 19-21; Psalm 16;
Galatians 5: 1, 13-18; Luke 9: 51-62

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

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Today’s Gospel passage marks a turning point in Luke. After Jesus’ popular ministry in his native Galilee region, Luke tells us that he "resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." A travel narrative now begins. It is a large section in Luke’s gospel (9:51-19-27) and it will end in the place where Jesus meets his suffering and death . So today’s passage is a crucial moment in Jesus’ ministry and it begins a series of teachings on the nature of discipleship. Jerusalem is not just another city, another place to preach and cure. Jesus knew that, we know it and his disciples are about to learn it. What we will be reminded on this journey with Jesus and his disciples, is that following Jesus in not just a casual decision, one of many we make in our lifetime. Luke is setting out to show us we must make careful consideration of the costs and unwavering commitment following Jesus requires.

First, Jesus passes through a Samaritan village. Luke links their rejection with the fact the "the destination of his journey was Jerusalem." Maybe they reject Jesus because the Samaritans want Jesus to go to their own Mount Gerizim and not to Mount Zion, the Jewish place of worship. Or, maybe Luke is suggesting we must be prepared to accept the costs of following Jesus and it is the suffering that comes with discipleship that is the reason the world rejects Jesus. He is very much admired in our world: Jesus makes a lovely religious icon; his cross is worn as a piece of jewelry – but he wants more than admiration from a safe distance.

Life is frequently described as a journey – it has a beginning, an end and along the way there are important stopping-off places with countless vistas. However, the difference for us Christians is that it is more than a journey – it is a pilgrimage. We are like pilgrims of old, traveling together towards a special place, praying as we go and supporting one another as we face the challenges along the way. Jerusalem is the backdrop for Jesus’ journey. He keeps Jerusalem always in his mind’s eye. Jesus is single minded, he has a task to accomplish and we will all be the beneficiaries. Jesus makes it quite clear along the way that to follow him is to be willing to journey whole heartedly with him to Jerusalem. No compromises, no half measures.

The somber words to the potential disciples in today’s reading tell them and us that they must join his single minded determination. The first candidate is reminded that following Jesus has its own insecurities, even homelessness. The second is told that there is even a higher loyalty than filial responsibilities. Let the spiritually dead deal with their dead. And to the third, who wants to go say farewell to his family, Jesus says he will tolerate no delays. There is no looking back if you want to plow a straight line. Jesus is not in the numbers game. Rather than just add numbers to his followers, Jesus wants the others to know just what they are getting into if they decide to go with him to Jerusalem.

We who count the size of our congregation on a Sunday morning and reckon the success of our ministry by the numbers who show up, are caught short here. Is each of us ready to reaffirm our commitment to Christ when sacrifice and not "success" are the fruits of discipleship? The "Son of Man has no where to rest his head," – while we allow little of the world’s pain to enter our head and disturb our peace of mind. Do the pictures of the suffering we see each evening on television news ever cause us a restless night? Or, even a few minutes less sleep? Are we haunted at night by the distress of others – enough to rise from our restless pillow determined to do some little bit to change a situation so that others might rest more easily?

Today’s gospel does what the Sermon on the Mount does – makes me feel my inadequacy as a disciple. Who among us hasn’t looked back? Or, made a choice for our own profit, rather than accept the sacrifice of discipleship? Who hasn’t kept quiet when we should have spoken up, so that we can continue to fit in comfortably with our peers? We have acquiesced rather than speak up and put ourselves on the line. Thankfully we have this Eucharist, the meal of recommitment. Gathered with other followers around the table, we hear the words that rebuild the crumbling structure, patch the cracks and freshen up the paint of our discipleship. We eat the meal that knits us more closely into a community that has heard the invitation to follow, considered the costs and still said "yes"; even if it is a fragile "yes," timidly whispered, more than confidently shouted.

In the first reading, Elisha completely destroys his past to follow the prophet Elijah and to respond to God's call. He kills the yoke of oxen and uses the plowing equipment to provide fuel to cook them. He puts behind him all his old ways of living to accept a new way, in a new relationship with the prophet Elijah. Does it suggest that one has to make a clean break when one decides that God is inviting us to change, or to enter into a more profound commitment?

Society offers ways of violence and aggression to get our will: "one-up-manship" is congratulated; power is extolled and high position is the sought-after reward. However, we hear a call to a new community and an entirely new consciousness when we respond to God's call. Elisha's actions suggest that half measures will not do. Sometimes we don't have the luxury of putting off to a more "appropriate time" the changes we need to make. We all can quote stories of people caught short and wanting when struck with sickness, or demands on their internal resources. They found they had nothing to draw from when strength, resolve, or integrity were needed.

Elisha hears the call and responds in the midst of his daily life: a very typical place for a call in the Bible. Remember Peter’s call while he was washing his nets; Matthew’s came while he was in the toll booth collecting taxes; Moses’ while he was tending sheep.? What we do everyday is most likely the place of our call as well. The call may be: to simplify our lives; cut back on our hectic schedule for the sake of our family; get out of an abusive relationship; quit the gang of kids we hang around with, etc. We here in the United States celebrate Independence Day this week. It's a secular holiday, but it does give us an opportunity to reflect on the slavery and addictions that keep us from being free. Hear the call: of independence to more sanity; less violence in our speech and actions; the realization that "having it all," is having nothing at all.

"To follow" and "to serve" in biblical language mean something very specific. These terms infer personal allegiance. When we follow someone/serve someone; we enter into personal relationship. In our first reading, Elisha says to Elijah, "I will follow you." In Luke, the potential followers say to Jesus, "I will be your follower." Personal allegiance is what we Christians are about. We don't follow a dogma or creed, but the person of Christ.

We "see" and "hear" what's involved in following Jesus by means of the stories of the Gospel. In today’s Gospel we not only hear the invitation to follow, but already hear what's required – total trust and dedication. The follower's relationship to God, or Christ, is what is stressed. The relationship doesn't enslave us but graces us, frees us – even while are being made totally dedicated. Such dedication is freedom, deliverance from "the yoke of slavery" (2nd. reading, Galatians).

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:


For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

--Galatians 5: 13-14

On the eve of the U.S. Independence Day when we celebrate freedom found in political liberties, today’s Reading II, finds Paul reminding his audience of the freedom they have found in the gospel. This is a freedom that is expressed best in loving service to our neighbor. If you have any doubt of the importance that Paul places on this aspect of being a Christian, read 1 Corinthians 13. Love, faith, and hope are the most fundamental charisms that a Christian needs to exhibit but, since love is operative within faith and hope, love has primacy.

Pope Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel): "Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have ‘the fragrance of the Gospel’" (39).

He continues: "Benedict XVI has said that ‘closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God’[209] and that love is, in the end, the only light which ‘can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working’[210]. When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God" (272).

Reflect on your charism to love in the light of some of today’s issues--immigration, healthcare, unborn and their mothers, creation care, racism, militarism. .

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC


Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,

he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem....


The Christian way is frequently described as a journey – but not for sightseeing or mere observation. It requires daily commitment. It might be more accurate to call it a "pilgrimage." Like pilgrims of old, we are traveling together towards a special place, praying as we go and supporting one another as we face the challenges along the way.

So we ask ourselves:

  • How would you describe this moment of your Christian pilgrimage?
  • What is the source of your strength and nourishment as you travel day to day?


"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • John Williams #0599379 (On death row since 3/5/98)
  • Danny Frogg #0137368 (3/27/98)
  • Allen Holman #0587681 (4/7/98)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:


"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:


1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at

3. Our webpage: - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.

Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.


St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736


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