Homily  13th Sunday of the Year C: Michael Ufok Udoekpo· Psalm 16:1-2,5-11;
· 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21;
· 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21;
· Gal 5:1,13-18
· Luke 9:51-62
Following Jesus, freely and Completely
Our relationship with God is a relationship of faith. It is a journey of faith that requires free will response, resoluteness and determination in following (akoloutheo) Christ. This determination and resoluteness is also translated into how we listen to God, his precepts. How we response to daily events in the modern world, and how we also relate with our neighbors in the midst of our daily challenges matters. In this last weekend (of June 2016) we woke up to hear that Great Britain is exiting from the European Union after about 40 years. And the world is panicking at least politically and economically. How does this affect our faith in God and how we follow (akoloutheo) Christ? Usually, there is a sacrifice involved in this- I mean following Christ, listening to him, serving him. What have you left to follow Christ?
In the first reading of today Elisha left everything and followed the Prophet Elijah in his mission of love, care for the poor, the sick and the widows. Elijah was also a proponent for worship of God alone. To accompany Elijah on this mission, Elisha left everything including his oxen, father and mother- total abandonment.
We see this total abandonment in Christ's mission. His mission was not only to baptize, to help, to cure diseases, but also to love everyone and to do the will of God his Father. He was not interested in riches, nor in power. He made this known to the Satan who tempted him after his baptism, earlier on in Luke chapter 4. We also see Jesus’ selflessness in his response to his Mother at Cana in Galilee, in John 2. Jesus says to Mary, "Woman my time has not yet come." After the Passover commemoration Jesus stayed back in the Temple to do his Father's will, preaching and dialoging with rabbis in the synagogue. A mystery that Mary and Joseph continuously wrestled with. On top of everything, Jesus leaves his mother and his biological family and went to the Cross of Calvary, in Jerusalem.
In today’s (Luke 9:51-62) Christ is freely and resolutely determine to journey to this Jerusalem. But, are his disciples willing to seriously journey with him? Or are they just talking the talk without walking the walk. Are they willing to journey with him? Or must they go back like Elisha to bury their parents and say farewell to them first?
In some contexts neither of these excuses: burying the dead or saying hello to ones' family is wrong. I think what matters is serving God responsibly, imitating him, and being volitionally dedicated to him in our various settings and contexts, through the services we selflessly render our neighbors and communities. These excuses may also serve as a reminder to us that it is much better to avoid inventing reasons to justify lack of charity, firmness in faith or adequate response to the needy and the plight of the poor or refusal to willingly participate in the dialogue for the healing of brokenness, selfishness, subjectivism and disunity facing various segments of our society today.
St. Paul puts it well in the Second Reading in his address to the Galatian church(Gal 5:1, 13-18) "For freedom Christ set us free, so stand firm and do not submit again to yoke of slavery. For you were call for freedom ...but do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh (things that takes us away from God, evil), rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
God and all that he stands for, is this love, Deus Caritas est! The Psalmist rightly calls him " our inheritance"( Ps 16:5a). May we willingly follow him in our daily works and acts of charity, and listen to that whispering of the Holy Spirit with patience! And may he show us the path of life as we journey responsibly with faith, freedom in Christ, resoluteness and determination to follow God's will, not ours, especially in the challenging world of today!