Lanie LeBlanc OP
Carol & Dennis Keller
Brian Gleeson CP
Paul O'Reilly SJ
reflection can be here!)
Sunday 13 C
What is it that sets us free and allows us to live with
contentment? That was the question that quickly came to my
mind as I read this Sunday's readings. In modern times it
seems that upheaval is more the norm than an aberration. I
think spending some time reflecting on that question might
bring forth some answers that could benefit each of us as
individuals and our society as a whole.
Right now, this is a profound question for me personally.
Upheaval doesn't get close to an adequate description of
some things going on in my family's life. Yet I am still
supposed to be the "glue" that usually keeps things
God does work in mysterious ways. "Wondering" about them
seems to fit right in with Jesus's comment in the Gospel
about himself not having a place to rest his head. The rest
of Jesus's message, as I read it, encourages us to move
forward and proclaim the kingdom of God... no matter what.
Jesus's comments strongly suggest that this proclamation
in not really an option but rather one of several important
directives to follow as a Christian, a follower of Jesus. It
seems that maintaining an unwavering focus where the message
is the center of one's life is important. Jesus is not an
add-on to a busy life just when there is extra time, for
instance. Instead, keeping Jesus in mind helps us manage a
busy life by connecting each of our activities to his word
It is the "unwavering" part that I find difficult in
super stressful times. Ironically, "unwavering" reminds me
of the waves of life and Jesus's words when he calmed the
storm at sea not to be afraid in storms. For me, having that
familiarity with Scripture helps me to remain more calm. It
helps me to recall that Jesus also said "I am with you
it seems that for me, knowing, believing in, and
recalling Jesus's words sooner rather than later sets me
free. They give me a better chance of riding out those
inevitable waves of stress and live more contently. Making
the time for prayer through the Scriptures simply must be a
Thirteenth Sunday of Ordered Time June 30 2019
1st Kings 19: 16 &19-21; Responsorial Psalm 16;
Galatians 5:1 & 13-18; Gospel Acclamation 1st Samuel 3-9 &
John 6:68; Luke 9:51-62
At first thought, the readings for the Liturgy of the
Word this Sunday seem to focus solely on vocation. Elijah,
the greatest prophet of the Northern Kingdom – also known as
Israel – chooses a successor. His life’s work is nearly
finished and God chooses Elisha as his successor. Elijah
will soon be taken away in a fiery chariot described as a
wheel within a wheel. Legends grow and insist he will return
to announce the Messiah. But in the end the hard work and
effort of this prophet seems to have been for nothing. The
Northern Kingdom is lost to the Assyrian armies and the
people served by Elijah and Elisha is exiled to the four
winds. These are the legendary Lost Tribes of Israel. The
narrative this Sunday describes Elisha’s response to the
call. With twelve yoke of oxen for plowing at his command he
certainly was a man of wealth. His response to the call was
to ask Elijah for time for goodbyes to family and friends
and to dispose of his wealth. Elijah’s response is an
insistence it was Elisha’s choice to accept the call of God
to prophesize to the people of the nation. Elisha’s response
was a whole-hearted response. He eliminated any turning
back, his resources given as food for his people.
The Responsorial Psalm is a song of commitment to the
Lord as well. The antiphon is "you are my inheritance, O
Lord." In our economy we work for an accumulation that will
sustain us in our advancing age and as a start for our
children. The psalmist looks to God for his refuge, for his
delight in living, for hope at the point of death. Certainly
when this poetic prayer came from the pen and went to the
lips of the psalmist it was already after he or she had
experienced life. Things passed quickly and things, and
authority, and fame carried no lasting support for the
spirit. It is only in God that our hearts find their rest.
It is only in union with God that we find permanence and
lasting inheritance which we receive first as a gift and
then as growth in our living in the light of the Lord.
Paul’s ending to his letter to the Galatians is classic
Paul. In his writings – and most certainly in his teaching
and preaching – his understandings and knowledge of God’s
enduring presence soar in majestic phrases. But his words
often require us to study and seek counsel about their
meaning. However, in each of his writings, Paul always ends
his presentation of theological insight with a practical
note. Wonderful concepts, majestic insights, and inspiring
words are really nothing if those instructions cannot be
lived. In this letter he gives us a path for how the
community is to relate to each other. He insists that
through the ministry of Jesus we are made free. But that
freedom is not a freedom to take, to abuse, to murder, to
insult, or demean anyone. That freedom releases us from the
way of the world. The follower of the Christ does not live
with a dog-eat-dog mantra. No, the Christian is to serve
others through love. The freedom Jesus brought us is the
freedom from the way of the world, from the way of the
flesh. Those who live by the Spirit realize that the flesh –
the way of the world – is in conflict with the way of the
Christ. Those who cannot discover how to love their neighbor
live as though they were biting and devouring others. That
is the way of the flesh that seeks only its own benefit.
When one loves others, the law is not relevant. The law of
the Spirit, the way of the Christ is the way of loving one
another. That is our calling.
Our practice of praying for vocation seems to me to be
very short sighted. We pray for vocations to priesthood and
religious life. Yet most of us are called to a vocation of
married life. Many are called to the vocation of single
life. All of us are called to service in love of each other.
Our prayer can be amended so that each member of our
community will live their lives based on the love
demonstrated by Jesus, enlivened by the inspiration of the
Spirit, and with a permanent foundation in the truth of the
Father. All of us are called! All of us are to serve one
another. Some have lives that are ordered to worship,
continual prayer, and teaching. But all of us are called!
The message this Sunday is not for those who choose
priesthood, or religious life, or service in third world
countries. The message is for each of us.
The gospel begins with a narrative about Jesus setting
his face toward Jerusalem where he will undergo his trial,
his proof of his love and commitment to the truth of God.
The story of the rejection by the Samaritan village is a
warning to us. When we set our face to the New Jerusalem, we
will experience rejection, the derision of those who wield
power for their own benefit, and the suspicion of those who
practice the way of the world. We should expect it and not
be deterred from our journey to the New Jerusalem, the place
where God dwells among his creation.
The narrative unfolds as several come to Jesus vowing
their commitment. Jesus warns them and us that the wealth of
the world and its security is not always available to those
who follow him. The young man invited to follow Jesus says,
"Yes, but first let me bury my father." That seems like a
simple request. If the father has died, yes, go and bury
him, honor his life with a service of memorial. Jesus seems
cruel and unfeeling at the loss this young man has
experienced. However, all is not as it seems. This young
man’s father has not died yet. The young man wants to make
sure of his inheritance when the father finally finishes his
life. So also with the person who said he would follow Jesus
but first wanted to say goodbye. Just how long would those
goodbyes take? Once a decision to follow the Christ has been
made, there is no looking back.
Again, each person is called to follow Christ. Following
the Christ is no solely about priesthood or religious life.
Each person is called to follow in the way of the Christ.
That service must be based on love of others. Just as God
loves us each, so also we must enter a path that is a path
of discovery. That discovery is that God is with us. The
loving God is found where ever we seek God. This is
especially true when we love one another. Each is in the
image and likeness of God. And if we love one another, we
become aware of the divinity that resides in each other.
This takes work, this takes walking on the path Jesus
demonstrated for us. This is not about law and commandments.
It is about discovering God abiding with us and loving what
we discover. We are on a journey. When our eyes are opened
to the light brought by the Christ, our lives change. Our
growth and development in our relationships with others and
ultimately with the Lord transform us. And that
transformation allows us to sing, "You are my inheritance, O
PUTTING GOD FIRST: 13TH SUNDAY C
I was once talking with a man who was tiling a bathroom
in the house where I was living at the time. He does a lot
of work for Christians and a lot of work for Muslims. He
claims that Christians and Muslims have this much in common:
'Some are fully dedicated,' he said, 'some are
half-dedicated, some a bit dedicated, and others not the
least bit dedicated.' His words remind me of the message of
Jesus in the gospel today.
Luke, our story-teller, speaks of Jesus beginning his
final journey, his journey to the city of Jerusalem where he
will suffer and die, and his journey beyond Jerusalem, when
he is destined 'to be taken up to heaven'. Luke tells us
that 'Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem...', or,
as another translation puts it, '[Jesus] set his face to go
to Jerusalem'. Luke is emphasizing the single-minded
determination of Jesus, his total dedication to God’s plan
for his life. Even though reaching Jerusalem will bring him
rejection, betrayal and death, Jesus keeps his focus on full
fidelity to his mission.
As Jesus walks along the road with his first disciples,
the question comes up concerning how much dedication Jesus
expects his followers to have. Is there to be one standard,
the highest standard, for Jesus personally, and a lesser
standard, an easier standard, for people like you and me?
Jesus answers that there is one standard, one standard only,
both for him and for us. That standard is total dedication
to God, and total dedication to the people to whom God sends
What he expects of us comes through his three replies to
three would-be followers. One person says to him in a burst
of enthusiasm: 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus
answers with the plain facts: 'Foxes have their dens, and
birds have their nests. But my friends and I have no home.'
In other words, you cannot follow me and at the same time
live a completely comfortable and hassle-free life.
Jesus says to another person: 'Come and join my company
of friends.' The man hesitates: 'I have to go back for my
father's funeral. Let me do that first.' This was required
by Jewish law and is surely a reasonable request. But Jesus
insists: 'There's something more important than a funeral -
even your father's funeral. That’s to keep moving and keep
telling the good news of God's love and God's ways.'
A third person says: 'I'll come and join your company of
friends, sir, but let me first say good-bye to my family.'
That too is a reasonable request. But you cannot plough a
straight line in the ground unless you keep your focus on
what you are doing. So Jesus says to him: 'Nobody who starts
plowing and then keeps looking back at the field behind is
living in God's way.'
The seeming exaggeration and unreasonableness of Jesus in
these situations emphasizes one point. It’s simply this. The
greatest love of our life has to be God and the things God
wants of us. Ask any religious sister, brother or priest
just how many times they have been asked to live somewhere
else to do a new and challenging ministry there, and you may
be surprised to hear just how many times this has happened.
The amazing thing is how happy, peaceful and contented we
have been when we burnt our bridges behind us and did what
we were asked to do, instead of digging in and doing our own
Of course, there are other loves in our lives besides
God, legitimate loves - our homes, e.g., our families, our
friends, our work, our hobbies, our sport and our leisure.
But in the words that Jesus is using to make his point, he
insists that God alone, God's will alone, and God's plans
alone, must have first place in our lives. Everything and
everyone else must be secondary and subordinate.
Where does this teaching of Jesus leave us? It challenges
us to renew our commitment to God and to the people God has
given us as our responsibility, and to do so during this
Eucharist. We know from experience, perhaps from bitter
experience, just how easy it is to make promises and to
undertake commitments, but how difficult it is to go on
living and working without any turning back or any taking
back what we have promised.
I remember the words of the writer Michael Quoist about
this: 'Only God is faithful, he says, ‘our fidelity lies in
the struggle to be faithful amid all our infidelities.' The
teaching and example of Jesus also encourages us not to rely
on our own power and strength to live up to our commitments,
but to put all our trust in the power and goodness and
fidelity of God. While it’s true that Jesus the man 'set his
face to go to Jerusalem', he did so only because he was
relying on the power and support of God, the power and
support which were given him in his prayer to God.
All of us here have taken on big responsibilities to God
and to others, whether we are married or single persons,
whether we have children or not, whether we are priests or
religious. What sort of a line have we been plowing? Has it
been straight, or has it been wavy or even going round and
round in a circle?
Being baptized followers of Jesus, we are committed
people, and so we cannot walk away or run away from our
responsibilities and simply become another ‘drop out’ or
‘drop kick’. For, as the saying goes, 'when the going gets
tough, the tough get going'. So let me recommend that in our
Holy Communion, our close sharing with Jesus about all that
concerns him and all that concerns us, we remember that it
was through communion with God that Jesus 'set his face to
go to Jerusalem'. Words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta are
connected to this. ‘God doesn’t ask us to be successful,’
she says, ‘only to be faithful.’
May I also recommend that through our mutual love and
support, we encourage one another to be more faithful to our
different responsibilities and commitments than we are
already? Isn’t that what St Paul is saying in his words to
us in our Second Reading: ‘Serve one another in works of
Gleeson CP" <email@example.com>
June 29th: Feast of St Peter and St Paul
(Vigil) (Orat pro Soc).
"You will stretch out your hands and somebody else will
put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not
Until about five years before his death, Father – I’ll
call him Father John - was not the best loved man in the
British Province of the Society of Jesus - not by a long
chalk. He was respected certainly, admired even, for his
zeal, commitment, sheer hard work in every mission to which
he was sent, but he was sometimes disliked - even a little
feared - for his irritability and short temper.
Then he had a stroke.
It paralyzed the whole of his right side -arm and leg. He
lost the power of speech. After two weeks in the hospital,
he recovered most of his speech and some of the power in his
right arm and leg.
After three months, it was clear that he was going to be
permanently disabled. He was barely able to talk, to walk
and to look after himself. He would certainly never be able
to work again.
He met with the Provincial, the Superior of all of the
Jesuits in the country. It was not a happy meeting. He cried
for the first time in fifty years. Despite the Provincial’s
best efforts, he left the meeting in despair. Having given
his life and his life’s work to God and the Society of
Jesus, he felt that he had just been dropped, let go, made
redundant, made surplus to requirements, returned to sender.
And of all he had ever hoped for, he had nothing left. With
hindsight, he was prepared to admit that he gave way to
bitterness and I can personally testify that he was not an
easy man to live with. Never did I see a man more angry with
But his lowest moment came when he received the annual
Province catalogue - the list published every year of all
the Jesuits in the country and their jobs. Against his own
name were written the words "Orat pro Soc". It is a Latin
abbreviation the sentence "Orat pro Societatem Jesus et
Ecclesiam", which translates: "He prays for the Society of
Jesus and for the Church". That is something every Jesuit is
supposed to do every day, but they only write it against
your name when it is the only thing you can do. For the
first time in his life Father John wished he was dead.
The next morning, it occurred to him that, never actually
having prayed much for the Church and the Society, he wasn’t
too sure how to go about it. So he tottered slowly and
painfully down to the Chapel, committed his heart to the
Lord and thought about the Church and the Society.
Nothing much seemed to happen - which, to be honest,
didn’t greatly surprise him. Towards the end of his hour, he
found himself being distracted by the thought of how
fortunate the community had been in its superior – a man
who, he felt, had really spent himself in trying to bring
the community together as genuinely a union of hearts and
minds in the service of God. And it occurred to him that,
through the various busynesses of life, he had never found
the time to tell him so. But now, he had nothing but time.
So, as soon as his hour of prayer was finished, he set
himself to walk down to the superior’s office to set right
that tiny wrong.
The next day, his prayer went no better. And he found
himself increasingly distracted by thoughts of all the
people who had done good things for him and had never been
thanked. They seemed to be legion; many of them were no
longer alive. So, after his hour’s prayer, he said a special
Mass for all of them. And then he went back to his room,
lifted his telephone and started making some calls to those
who were still able to answer the phone.
In subsequent days, he found himself increasingly
distracted by thoughts of the younger men in the Society
who, he felt, were doing good work in difficult
circumstances – in a Province of declining numbers, in a
nation of aggressive secularism. He wondered if anyone ever
told them they were doing a good job. He thought, probably
not. So he decided that was something he could do.
Anyone who has ever lived in a religious community can
finish this story for themselves. Even those blessed with
the calm, even, tranquillity of family life (at least that’s
what they tell me) might just be able to guess at it. It was
not long before Father John became the living, beating,
vibrant heart of our community. We became a place where no
good deed went unappreciated; no man went unaffirmed; nobody
at all could feel that there was no port in a storm.
Speaking personally, I invite you to imagine how it makes
you feel as a newly ordained priest, that a crippled old man
feels the need to climb four flights of stairs to tell you
that he thought you said a good Mass today.
So it is true that Father John’s worst fears were
realized. He never fully recovered from his stroke. He never
was able to work again. He never was able to contribute
meaningfully to the material support of his community. What
saddened him the most was that he was never able to say a
public mass. But, in his last years I never saw a happier
man. And, believe me, we miss him now he’s gone. And in his
memory, I would like to suggest that the next time any of us
feels absolutely useless, valueless, a waste of space, a
useless eater, and that the world might be a better place
without us - and remember that most have us have such
moments – think of Father John. Make your way to the Chapel
and pray for the Church and the Society. Ask the Lord if He
can use one more faithful servant. And notice how that
changes your heart and your life. There are worse jobs that
‘Orat pro Soc’. And that is the fundamental call of every
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