Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
By: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
Homily for Sunday, June 30 2019
READINGS: 1 Kings 19: 16, 19-21, Ps. 16, Gal. 5: 1, 13-18, Luke 9: 51-62
The Lord God created man with a spirit which is of him and he is to live by that spirit in order to be in and with God. The flesh has its own spirit and force of operation and keeps making demands which according to the second reading is against the Spirit of God in us.
When the human person responds to the control of the flesh, he goes contrary to the will of God which brings doom and destruction to him and others. The bodily desires are opposed to that of the Spirit of God given us in creation as our image.
When anyone lives in the flesh he will be blind to the revelations of the spirit and would not be able to see the will of God. He plans only for the things that would favour the body. When Elisha was responding to the demands of the body, he did not know he has a divine calling. He was interested in material work by taking the oxen ploughing- twelve yoke of oxen. He was not feeling the direction that the Lord has mapped out for him. Even when he was spiritually infected by the casting of the mantle of Elijah upon him, he made excuses and demands to gratify still the demands of the flesh. He said as a sign of attachment to materiality: Let me kiss my Father and Mother, and then I will follow you. This was the same excuses that the man of the gospel whom Jesus called said: Let me first go and bury my Father and the other said: but let me first say farewell to those at my home. These two like Elisha were responding to the demands of the body which run contrary to the demand of the Spirit. The demands of the Body cling to human beings, family members and attachment to material things. Anyone who wishes to follow God must do away with material attachment and inclination to created things but to the demands of the spirit which is but a command from God according to his will. We cannot follow God with double allegiance or with divided attention; God must be our priority while every other thing must give way to the work and call of God. Our allegiance and love for parents and families and friends count last and are secondary matters. Excuses should not be given to the call and work of God; nothing should come first before God’s choice and will for us. Unfortunately this is what we do on daily basis.
Beloved, once the hand of the Lord is upon you, you cannot resist his power. His touch is with a magnetic force and so clinging and irresistible despite our agitations and initial acts of rejection. If his hand is upon you, you can only resist for a while but must return back in a more mysterious way.
When you begin to respond to the call of God, you do certain things that are radical and confusing to others around you. Here after some initial resistance and excuses, Elisha had to go and slew the yoke of oxen, boiled their meat and shared them to people and then went to follow Elijah in the service of the Lord. He saw no meaning in the things of the world that he initially clanged to. He gave them away like that merchant who discovered a pearl and sold everything and purchased it. He behaved like Peter who left his net and boat and followed Christ This was the same with James and John who left their father’s boat and workers and followed Christ; the same was the fate of Saul who abandoned the sword of killing on Damascus road and took up the sword of the Spirit of love and preservation of life and the gospel. I am sure that the man of the gospel that Jesus asked to come and follow him who initially resisted with reasons of his parents’ burial later left them and followed Christ when he said: Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
The call of Christ to us as Christians removes the yoke of slavery from us. His call gives us the courage and power to destroy the yoke like Elisha and then go in followership of him like Elisha. His grace places our spiritual hand on a plough making it impossible for us to look back which is a sign of unworthiness. This freedom his call gives us is not an opportunity for the flesh to rule but to make us worship the Lord our God in freedom of the children of God. Our call to God’s service gives us power to do many things including to destroy what is evil but St Paul warns us to take heed so that we do not consume one another. The two sons of Zebedee wanted to use their freedom and gifts in Christ to destroy the purported enemies; those who were resisting their entrance to Jerusalem. Christ objected to a careless use of power and acting with impunity. We are advised to be patient with others and show mercy even to offenders giving them opportunity to repent through the showing of love not revenge and hatred. Love is the only thing that converts and heals the sinner; it makes him weak and troubled in guilt of conscience. We cannot live and do our ministry with militancy and use of force which is now the language of the world. Patience, show of love, giving the other another opportunity, listening to the other to know why he is reacting and dialogue are better ways of achieving success and unity.
Beloved, we pray that whenever the Lord sends us on a message we may pick up the signal without objection or reasons to delay. It is our prayer that the Lord would find in us a useful instrument to call and that he may place his irresistible hand on us so that we can follow his will for us here on earth. I pray that we may not prefer anything to God or fix our gaze on earthly things. May the Lord be our portion and cup, our satisfaction, longing and peace, may he show us the path of life and fullness of joy in his presence, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
NOTE: Thank God for bringing us to the end of June, Happy New Month of June in few hours from now.