June 30, 2013

Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Director, La Salette Shrine
Enfield, NH

In today’s readings we encounter two very human realities.

First there is indignation. James and John are angry that the Samaritans won’t let Jesus and his followers pass through. They are experiencing the New Testament equivalent of road rage!

The recent Supreme Court decision affecting marriage has met with indignation as well. One might be tempted to call down fire from heaven, but then we would just be engaging in the “Biting and devouring” that St. Paul condemns in the second reading.

Then there’s procrastination, which we find in two of Jesus’ potential disciples. They want to follow him, but not just yet. They’ll get to it.

St. Paul tells us to “Live by the Spirit.” We resolve that we will, honest. Some day. When everything else is in place. It’s like thinking of all the things we will do when we retire. (Imagine a disciple saying, “I will follow you, Lord, once I’m retired.”) Or like what happens when so many of my winter projects eventually become my summer projects.

Personally I have no doubt that in the gospel text Jesus literally meant for the followers to drop everything, and not procrastinate. All three must have been stunned.

The first must have felt that Jesus was trying to put him off.

The second and third made normal, reasonable requests, Jesus says, “Forget about that!” He wasn’t even saying, “When your father dies you can bury him then,” or “You can say goodbye to your family later.”

This was no ordinary situation, however, no mere question of what to do in what order. It was a life choice. No turning back.

If you are married, there came a time in your life when you decided to pursue a relationship. You knew the time had come, it was now or never, sink or swim, moment of truth, the turning point. Yikes! No wonder it was such an emotional moment. And so it is with all the most important choices in life.

For Jesus and Paul the situation was the same: life choices, no turning back.

In the early centuries of the Church, the life of Christians was so different from the life of those around them, that sometimes people preferred to wait—even till they were on their deathbed— to ask for baptism. The logic was this: baptism wipes away all sin, so why not wait till I’ve committed my sins and then put all that behind me. In other words, it’s all about me! What do I get out of it?

Jesus says in effect: “No... You’re the disciple, I’m the Master.”

We might not like the demands of discipleship. Jesus doesn’t seem to care about that. He says: “It’s not about you. It’s about me. Do you want to follow me or not?”

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