St. John the Evangelist Catholic Community
1st Reading: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
You shall anoint Elisha…as prophet to succeed you.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body too, abides in confidence because you will not abandon my soul
2nd Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ has set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery…For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem
The Scriptures today speak of the fact that God will never leave us and calls us to life. God does know that if we follow Jesus, we will also have to suffer greatly and sometimes die. Because God loves us and hates to see us cry, God’s heart breaks in two when we are persecuted for proclaiming the Good News.
The problem is that most of try to follow the rules rather than the love.
Two people were applying for the same job. The first came in to the final interview. The interviewer said, “Before we can offer you the job you are applying for we have to ask you a simple question. Are you ready?”
“Yes!” he said.
“What is two plus two?”
“Four,” he answered.
Then the second applicant came in. She was asked, “Are you ready for the question?”
“Yes!” she answered.
“What is two plus two?”
She answered, “Whatever the boss says it is!”
Which comes first, orthodoxy or truth? We all come from families. We have been trained in our school system to get the right answer on tests and exams that we seldom question the purpose. Many of the people at the time of Jesus could answer the question, “What is the most important commandment?” This was their 2 plus 2 question. “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, mind and soul.” It is the right answer for the exam, but Masters level and above professors insist that we explain our answer. This requires critical thinking that many of us balk at.
The second applicant gets the job, but does that mean she is better off? I don’t think so. Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say that I am?” Peter gets the right answer and is able to be called the top apostle. However, he does not know how to go deeper and integrate the suffering that will follow. To answer, “Whatever the boss says it is,” is the beginning stage of maturing to be a friend and lover of Jesus. God is calling us to divinity and an heir of eternal life. But we often settle for just squeaking in to heaven as a mere servant or slave. God desires to give us so much more.
Consider this story: Two brothers—one a bachelor, the other married—owned a farm whose fertile soil yielded an abundance of grain. Half the grain went to one brother and half to the other.
All went well at first. Then, every now and then, the married man began to wake with a start from his sleep at night and think: “This isn’t fair. My brother isn’t married, he’s all alone, and he gets only half the produce of the farm. Here I am with a wife and five kids, so I have all the security I need for my old age. But who will care for my poor brother when he gets old? He needs to same much more for the future than he does at present, so his need is obviously greater than mine.”
With that he would get out of bed, steal over to his brother’s place, and pour a sack full of grain into his brother’s granary.
The bachelor brother too began to get the same attacks. Every once in a while he would wake from his sleep and say to himself, “This simply isn’t fair. My brother has a wife and five kids and he gets only half the produce of the land. Now I have no one except myself to support. So is it just that my poor brother, whose need is obviously greater than mine, should receive as much as I do?” Then he would get out of bed and pour a sack full of grain into his brother’s granary.
One night they got out of bed at the same time and ran into each other, each with a sack of grain on his back!
Many years later, after their death, the story leaked out. So when the townsfolk wanted to build a church, they chose the spot at which the two brothers met, for they could not think of any place in the town that was holier than that one.
The most important question that Jesus asks us about religious distinction. “Is religious distinction more about those who worship and those who do not worship, or about those who love and those who don’t?”
When Jesus says to each and every baptized person, “Follow me!” He calls solely from a deep and compassionate love. Jesus knows that to look back to security or even family means to take our eyes off of God’s light, love, truth and concern for us. Yes, 2 plus 2 equals 4. Yes, 2 plus 2 sometimes equals whatever God says it is. But most importantly, the question “What is my heart plus your heart plus the heart of Jesus equal?”
Isn’t that Good News?
**Both stories are adapted from the late Father Anthony de Mello, S.J., (1988). Taking Flight: A book of story meditations & (1982). The Song of the Bird (1982). Garden City, New York: Image Books.