Central Idea: God must come first. Doctrine: Vocation. Practical Application: Living and discerning your vocation.
To view the Lectionary 99 readings, click here.
1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
Central Idea: God must come first
- At the call of Elijah, Elisha took his hand from his plow, assured he would never look back, and followed Elijah as his attendant.
- God revealed to the great prophet Elijah that Elisha was to succeed him. Elisha must have been a well-to-do young man, because he not only had a massive team of oxen for plowing, he must also have owned large fields to justify using so many animals.
- Elisha’s vocation was to serve God by following Elijah. His total commitment to break from his old life is seen in his destruction of his livelihood: He slaughtered his oxen, burned up the yokes as firewood, and fed his family and servants with the meat.
- The Psalmist knew that we must put God first in our lives.
- “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” If we put God first, he will care for us now and reward us with eternal life finally.
- Seen in the light of the Catholic Faith, “You are my inheritance” is literally true. We will inherit God. We already possess God’s life to some degree through the Sanctifying Grace of Baptism and the other Sacraments. In heaven (if we attain it), we will have God’s life to the greatest degree we can. We will be divinized.
- St. Paul contrasts freedom and slavery, the Spirit and the flesh.
- This is not to be interpreted as if the human soul is good and the human body is evil. No, both are good.
- By spirit St. Paul means the life of grace given to us through Christ. This life in the Spirit is lived by loving your neighbor as yourself, by serving the others.
- By flesh, St. Paul means just the opposite: He means selfishness. He means using others so they will love you and do good for you without you having a thought for them. When two people in a relationship are in it for themselves, the result is “biting and devouring one another.”
- Both grace and selfishness are strong forces in us. They are at war. If the spirit wins—that is, if we cooperate with grace and serve others—we will live lives of freedom. If the flesh wins—that is, we seek our own good and use others to achieve it – we will actually be self-enslaved.
- Today’s Gospel records four things Jesus’ friends say to him. Each statement gets a different response than the speaker expected.
- James and John say, “Let’s destroy the Samaritan village that rejected us!” This earns them a rebuke.
- The second speaker was really thinking something like, “If I follow the Messiah faithfully I’ll end up in a palace!” Jesus tells him, No. You won’t have a home on earth.
- The third means, “Sure I’ll follow you Lord. Just let me wait till my father dies, whenever that will be.” Jesus’ answer: No. The time is now.
- The fourth appears to think: “I can keep a nice balance between my old life and what you ask of me, Lord.” Jesus’ answer, echoing Elisha, is, No. I want a total commitment.
- Following Christ demands a radical change. We orient our life to him. We live according to the Spirit, that is, loving God and neighbor assisted by grace, not according to the flesh, that is, selfishly using others.
- Today, a powerful minority, increasingly backed by government power, is demanding that we adapt our Catholic faith to their ideology.
- We are supposed to embrace a new definition of marriage and to teach this to our children.
- We must say abortion and contraception are rights and pay for others to receive them.
- They are demanding we leave our Catholic faith outside public life.
- What do you think Christ would say? Faced with a similar demand, the Apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
- Where was Jesus Christ headed when he answered the questions in today’s Gospel? He was going to Jerusalem to die on the Cross. Fidelity to our Catholic Faith has that price. That price is not too high because “The Lord is our inheritance.”
- Christian or not, each human being shares the same basic calling: To live in this life so as to attain eternal beatitude in the next. This is the vocation of every person in every age in every place.
- The Psalmist attests that if we stay close to God, no matter what happens to us, we will ultimately be okay, or rather, infinitely better than okay. This is why the Psalmists says, “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” The “are” is of course conditional, based on the fidelity of our response to God’s call.
- In today’s readings we see various vocations: Elisha’s vocation to become a prophet, every Christian’s vocation to live according to the Spirit, the disciples’ vocation to dedicate their lives to serving the Church, and Christ’s own vocation to give up his life to redeem and sanctify humanity.
- In the Church, there are many vocations:
- For a man, to be a layman, a priest, or a religious.
- For a woman, to be a laywoman or a religious.
- For both men and women, if they are called to the laity, to choose the single life or marriage.
- For laypersons, to a multitude of kinds of work, with a great scope for freedom in choosing, from artist to baker to chemist . . . to xylophonist to yacht builder to zoologist.
- The vocation to which God calls most people is to the laity and married life. There is no more noble way for a woman to live her lay vocation than to be a dedicated mother.
Practical Application: Living and Discerning Your Vocation
- Often when priests and religious speak about vocation, they mean discerning if God is calling a young person to the priesthood or religious life, as Elisha had a vocation to the office of prophet in ancient Israel.
- It is certainly right for every Catholic young man to pray to know if he has a vocation to the ministerial priesthood and/or to the religious life or if she has a vocation to the religious life.
- However, living one’s vocation comes before discerning it. Why is this? The reason is that every one of us is already in a state of life. Priests, religious, and all married persons already know their vocation.
- A young person who is trying to figure out what to do with his or her life is currently a member of the laity. The young person is also already in important relationships with parents, siblings, and friends. Each also has a job, as a student or in the work world.
- So what all of us have in common is the need to live our calling better. A priest needs to be a better priest according to the demands of the priesthood. A monk, brother, nun, or sister needs to be a more faithful religious according to the demands of religious life. A layperson needs to do the same, according to whether he or she is single or married and in regard to his or her various roles and responsibilities.
- Vatican II’s foundational document tells us that the vocation of the laity is to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” Living in the world and working in secular professions and occupations, the laity sanctify all the “ordinary circumstances of family and social life” (Lumen Gentium 31).
- In Vatican II’s document on the apostolate of the laity, we read: “In the pilgrimage of this life, hidden with Christ in God and free from enslavement to wealth, [the laity] aspire to those riches which remain forever and generously dedicate themselves wholly to the advancement of the kingdom of God and to the reform and improvement of the temporal order in a Christian spirit” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 4).