The Calling to Follow Unconditionally: 13th Sunday of

The Calling to Follow Unconditionally: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time


      In the first reading, 1 Kings 19, Yahweh appears to Elijah in a cave, or a cleft in the rock on a mountain; warning of the fury that He will bring down on the Israelites (in of hurricanes and earthquakes) for their lack of faith in Him and their worship of the Babylonian idol Baal.  In 1KGS 19:16B, we see the selection of the righteous leadership approved by Yahweh; since He will only spare seven thousand, those who have not worshipped Baal (1KGS 19:18).   We also learn the order in which Yahweh has chosen His successor of Elijah, the great prophet, in 1 Kings 19:15B-16, “and said to Elijah:  ‘You must go and anoint Hazael as king of Aram.  You must anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you.’”  Elijah anoints Elisha as his successor; who will in fact; anoint the new kings with Yahweh’s blessing at a later date.  

     In 1 KGS 19:19-21, we learn of the calling of Elisha to become the successor of Elijah.  In 1 KGS 19:19, “Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth.  Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.”  The cloak symbolizes the person and rights of its owner.  In the case of Elijah, he has miraculous powers given to him by Yahweh.  He has been given great respect, as the prophet of the king. The transferring of the cloak to Elisha also entails the selection and the future gift of prophecy from Yahweh, Himself.  This gift is a great honor to serve and a great blessing.
     In 1 KGS 19:20-21, “Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.’  Elijah answered, ‘Go back!  Have I done anything to you?’  Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat.
Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant
.”  The slaughtering of the oxen and destroyed the plowing equipment as a symbol the renouncing of the old life.  The old life would be replaced by the new life of learning from Elijah, and of being Yahweh’s future prophet to the kings and people.

     In the second reading comes from Paul to the Galatians.  In Ga 5:1, Paul is reminding the Galatians:  “Brothers and sisters:  For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”  This yoke of slavery refers to circumcision.  Christ has set all Gentile believers in Him free of following Jewish Law.  As a matter of fact, to return to circumcision, as a rite of Christian membership, would be to renounce the freedom brought by faith in Christ Jesus.  Christians no longer had to be Jewish first or follow the Jewish rite of entrance—circumcision. For the right of entrance for Christians was and is now to—simply believe in Him.  

     In Ga 5: 13-15, we learn of the new life of faith that is filled with love. “For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.  But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh (referring to sins of the flesh and self-indulgences); rather, serve one another through love.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The use of the word neighbor now has a new meaning under the New Law of Christ. It no longer refers to the Old Testament term in Leviticus as “a member of the same people”; rather, it refers to a member of the same human species.  And we are to use our freedom to choose, to choose to love all people, born and unborn!  We are warned by Paul what will happen if we continue on destroying others.  “But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.”  The fighting and destroying of each other will do nothing but destroy our eternal soul if we are not conscious of the freedom given by Jesus Christ.
     In Ga 5: 16-17, Paul warns us of the dangerous result in living a life of self-gratification based on the fulfillment of earthly and bodily pleasures: “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.”  As Lucifer was evicted from heaven, God gave him dominion over earth.  These desires of the flesh, mentioned by Paul, are the entrance way into our minds and souls.  If Satan can control our minds and thoughts, he can control our desires and lusts. 

     If he can control our lusts of the flesh, then he is controlling our minds and thoughts because we’ve let him in; thus resulting in the destruction of our Spirit, as we are consciously or unconsciously justifying the very sin that Satan has planted in our minds.  Our Spirit is guided by the Holy Spirit, at our every move, but if we look away from the Spirit and choose the flesh—we have chosen Satan over God.  “But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”(Ga 5: 18)  There is no need to worry about fulfilling any law, when the Holy Spirit is guiding your life; for the Spirit is pure goodness, and pure means not tainted in any way.

 

     In Lk 9:51-56, we realized that many people will be inhospitabile to the Word of Jesus and will attack us verbally or even physically, but we must be determined to reach them as well. “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him.”  Luke is eluding to Jesus being “taken up” as the Passion which was to happen.  As we can see by Jesus’ example, he was “resolutely determined” to spread the Word of the kingdom of God to the enemy of the Jews, the Samaritans, but was not received.  “On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. Comically, James and John, the sons of Zebedee (known as the “sons of thunder”) show their temper and malice for their taught enemies.  When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.”  Clearly, these two brothers, though extremely close to Jesus as part of the inner-circle of Jesus and two of the first apostles chosen by Jesus, still did not get the message that Jesus was trying to teach.  He rebukes them, as to say, he tells them to “be quiet,” if you please, because they are willing to use force to get the Samaritans to listen.  This clearly is not the way that Jesus was looking to “save” the human race by his upcoming death on the cross.
    
In Lk 9:57-62, we learn that there are a few that decide, half-heartedly, to follow Jesus.  “As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’  Jesus answered him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’  And to another he said, “Follow me.”   But he replied, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’   But he answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead.  But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”  At this point, Jesus is not trying to be cruel, on the contrary—He is teaching that He needs people of passion to drop the earthly, fleshly desires and seek Eternal Life because those that have passed, have passed, but the time is now for those that still have the chance.  Yet, they didn’t understand and they were willing at word only, but not in their hearts to give up what they had on earth.  “And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”  Finally, the Gospel of Luke tells us a very important message, which concludes the fervor we must have to reach the Kingdom of Heaven.  ”To him Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.’”  The message is this—in order to reach the kingdom of Heaven, we must look ahead and forget about our past faults, sins and past distractions.  We must, as Jesus did, take up our cross and live a life of sacrifice, giving up the fleshly, earthly pleasures and follow Jesus with all we have.  We must change our lives and live righteously.  It all starts today!  And we must be relentless!   

 

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Three readings and a Responsorial Psalm are reminding

Three readings and a Responsorial Psalm are reminding me of the Law, but more so…the hope, on this Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

     In the first reading from Zechariah 12:10-11 & 13:1, Zechariah warns of some key elements of end-time prophecy: 

Zechariah 12:10  “’Thus says the LORD: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one  grieves over a firstborn.”

     First, it is the blood line of King David that the Jews are to recognize as the Messiah, where the spirit of grace and petition will come.  Jesus himself, comes from the blood line of David, however is not accepted as the Messiah because he did not come as a warrior to conquer Rome, however, he came as a Lamb to conquer sin for all who will believe in Him.  For those that will believe that He is the Messiah, all sins will be paid for, and all prayers and petitions will be heard, by the one who was pierced by the spear at the cross, when the last bit of the blood has been shed for us sinners.  We are not worthy of such a glorious, selfless act of grace.  Our debts of sin have been paid, and we have nothing to give for this—other than our adoration.

     Secondly, it is the believers that have been saved by the blood of this perfect Lamb that has been slaughtered and selflessly sacrificed.  They, undoubtedly, mourned and grieved.  They loved Jesus, they travelled with Jesus, they ate with Him; they watched Him cure the sick, heal the inflicted and raise the dead—mind you, always in huge crowds to give proof for the unbelievers; they learned from his unorthodox teachings, often criticizing the  sin of greed, power and extortion within the Temple—the scribes and Pharisees.  Yes—in fact, Zechariah was right!  The inhabitants of Jerusalem would mourn as they mourn for an only son, and grieve like they would grieve for a first-born child.

     Thirdly, Zechariah looks back at the battle at Megiddo where King Josiah was killed immediately as punishment for the people for  not keep the commandments in the finding of the Book of Laws in the Temple of Yahweh, found in:        2 Kings 23:29  In the times, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt was advancing to meet the king of Assyria at the River Euphrates, and King Josiah went to intercept him; but Necho killed him at Megiddo in the first encounter.”  Yes, Zechariah looks back at those who did not follow the Laws, but in his prophecy, he sees the future of another battle in “the mountains of Megiddo”, which goes by another name in Hebrew—Armageddon.  Ah yes, once again, those that choose not to follow the “New Laws” clarified by Jesus (1. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.) will again see the bloody battle at “the mountains of Megiddo.”

Zechariah 12:11   “On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo”Zechariah 13:1    On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”

     Zechariah warns of one last chance to get it right: for those whose hearts are not hardened. 

     In the Responsorial Psalms 63:1-2, 4-5 and 7-8 we are reminded in our response of where our heart and soul needs to be and staying focused despite feeling lonely or lost:  This was written by David while wandering through the desert of Judah: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.”  The rest of the Psalm 63:1-2“O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.  Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, For your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you.”
Psalms 63:4-5 “Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.”
Psalms 63:7-8 “You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.”

     In the Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we learn of the fact that all humanity can be saved; it is not just for the Chosen People in which he was sent, the Jews in Galatians 3:26-29: “Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”  We are all created equal. Thanks to the encounter with the Canaanite woman and her daughter[i] where faith among Gentiles was equal with the Chosen People of Israel.  It’s what we do with this privilege that determines our eternal destination; it’s our choice, and WE NEED TO CHOOSE WISELY!!

      Finally in Luke 9:18-24, we see that Jesus is still concerned that the people that he encounters and even his closest twelve still don’t know who he is and what his mission is.  He is still worried he they still doesn’t get it!  “Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’  They said in reply, ‘John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’  Then he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Peter said in reply, ‘The Christ of God.’  He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
     He said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’  Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it
.’”

 

               [1] The daughter of the Canaanite woman healed

Mk 7:24     He left that place and set out for the territory of Tyre.  There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there; but he could not pass unrecognized.

Mt 15:22    And suddenly out came a Canaanite woman from that district [whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him Mk 7:25], started shouting, “Lord. Son of David, take pity on me.  My daughter is tormented by a devil,” [and came and fell at his feet Mk 7:25].

Mt 15:23    But he said not a word in answer to her.  And his disciples went and pleaded with him, saying, “Give her what she wants, because she keeps shouting after us.”

Mt 15:24     He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”[1]

Mk 7:26       Now this woman was a gentile, by birth a Syro-Phoenician, and she begged him to drive the devil out of her daughter.

Mt 15:25      But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him.  “Lord,” she said, “help me.”

Mk 7:27        And he said to her, “The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the little dogs.”

Mt 15:27       She retorted, “Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs [under the table Mk 7:28] eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.”

Mt 15:28       Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, you have great faith.[1]  [For saying this you may go home happy Mk 7:29]; let your desire be granted. [The devil has gone out of your daughter Mk 7:29].” And from that moment her daughter was well again.

Mk 7:30        So she went off home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.

 

Excerpt taken from Page  46 of “Wake Up! You Know Not the Day or the Hour”, Eric McNamara, Outskirts Press, 2013

 


 

            

                        

         

  

                             

                      

                    

 

 

                                                                     When I think of true leadership with

Image                                                                     When I think of true leadership with service…Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many.  Yet many will not accept Him?

     “Mt 20:24          When the other ten heard this they [began to feel Mk 10:41] indignant with the two brothers, [James and John Mk 10:41].

     Mk 10:42   [so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the gentiles those they call their lord over them, and their great men make their authority felt.

     Mt 20:26    Among you this is not to happen.  No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant,

     Mt 20:27    and anyone who wants to be first among you must be [a slave, to all Mk 10:44].

     Mk 10:45   For the Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ “

     Excerpt from: Wake Up! You Know Not the Day or the Hour, Eric McNamara, Outskirts Press, 2013, (pg 78)

Available at:  www.ericwakeupbook.com

     Three readings and a Responsorial Psalm have

Three readings and a Responsorial Psalm have been waiting heavy on me during this celebration of the Soleminty of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi).

In the First Reading from Genisis 14:18-20, the King and High Priest has been mentioned:   “In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”

In the Responsorial Psalms 110:1-4 we hear of this mysterious King and High Priest again in the response:  “You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.”  The rest of the Psalm 110: 1-4 from King David fortells the coming strength of the expected Messiah:  “The LORD said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.’  The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion: ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies.’  ‘Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.’  The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent: ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.'”

In the Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he reinforces the sacredness of and the forgiveness of sins in the Body of Christ at the Last Supper with his Apostles: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  “Brothers and sisters:  I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,  that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”  The whole reason why we exist as Christians is because of the Body and the Blood that was given up for all humans. 

Finally, the true miracle of and the power of Jesus, Son of God is shown among 5,000 men, not counting the women and children.  How do we know this?…because, as all miracles performed by Jesus, they were done in public, for all the people to see.  To reinforce this public miracle and the accuracy of it’s portrayal, Jesus, so brilliantly, tells his disciples to group the masses into sections of fifty.  Alas, all can easily and accurately count the multitude of what is to take place as described in Luke: 9:11B-17  ” Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.  As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, ‘Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.  ‘He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.’  They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.’  Now the men there numbered about five thousand.”

The thought that weighs so heavily on my heart is not that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has given his life as a ransom for a sinner like me…no, it is…who is this Melchizedek?  and why is he the only King and High Priest mentioned in the Bible?  and what “line of Melchizedek” are King David and Paul speaking of?

The answers to this riddle can be found in a few key verses of the Bible:

  • Paul explains in Hebrews 5:5-10 “And so it was not Christ who gave himself the glory of becoming high priest, but the one who said to him: ‘You are my Son, toda I have fathered you, and in another text: ‘You are a priest forever, of the order of Melchizedek.  During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, with loud cries and with tears, to the one who had the power to save him from death, and, winning a hearing by his reverence, he leant obedience, Son though he was, through his sufferings; when he had been perfected, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation and was acclaimed by God with the title of high priest of the order of Melchizedek.”
  • Paul answers the question of levitical priesthood versus the priesthood of  Melchizedek and sets the record straight in Hebrews 7:11-12 “Now if perfection had been reached through the levitical priesthood–and this was the basis of the Law given to the people–why was it necessary for a different kind of priest to arise, spoken of as being of the order of Melchizedek rather than of the order of Aaron?  Any change in the priesthood must mean a change in the Law as well.”
  • The most thought-provoking to me is:… that we know that Abram was the preceding name of to be Abraham, the father to all Jews, Muslims and later Christians.  Jesus tells us in John 8:58  “Jesus replied: ‘In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am.'”

So, was Jesus here before Abraham?  It’s a good possibility.  Was he on earth named Melchizedek, setting the original Law of how the Church, his “bride,” was to be; before the Law was corrupted with greed, power, control and extortion over 5,000 years ago?  Well…I am not opposed to the idea, and actually…evidence leads to it.  After all, John reinforces all that Jesus is, and was when he refers to Jesus as “the Word” in John 1:1-5  “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.  What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.”