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Homilies :: Latin Rite
Sunday of the 13th week in the Ordinary Time Download This Homily

Sunday of the 13th week in the Ordinary Time
June 30, 2019

 

 

1 Kgs 19: 16b. 19-21,

Psalm 16;1-2, 5, 7-11

Gal 5: 1.13-18

Lk 9: 51-62

 

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.  And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  But he turned and rebuked them.  And they went on to another village.  As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus[c] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

 

Act in the Living Present

 

It was Sigmund Freud, the father Psychoanalysis, who put forward the hypothesis of “death instinct” among living organisms in his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). According to Freud among living organisms, there exists a kind of todestriebe – “death instinct” in opposition to their “life instinct”. This ‘death wish’ counteracts Eros, the tendency toward survival, propagation, sex, and other creative, life-producing drives and persuades the living organisms to return to inorganic state. The opening sentence of today’s Gospel tells us, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Jesus pushes forward resolutely towards Jerusalem, the scene of his impending violent death on a cross. Not only Jesus but also his relatives, friends, disciples and almost everybody around him knew what would happen if Jesus dares to enter Jerusalem. In fact, they tried their best to dissuade him from undertaking such a seemingly suicidal, daredevil mission. Even the Samaritans, who had a soft corner towards Jesus, in spite of his Jewish background, were not happy about his journey towards Jerusalem. They refused to accommodate and entertain him. However, Jesus was unstoppable. Nothing could deter him. He was unwavering, focused and fully committed to his goal. Can we take this as a proof of the Freudian hypothesis of todestriebe – “death instinct”? Was it prudence from the part of Jesus to go to Jerusalem while knowing what awaited him there? Was it not harsh from the part of Jesus to rebuke and even call devil; his beloved disciple Peter who tried to prevent his untimely death?

 

We often hear people speak; in place and out of place; about prudence and kindness. For many people avoiding danger and difficulty is equal to prudence! However, the fact is that their ‘prudence’ is fraud. It is merely a cover-up of their ‘cowardice’. People who are afraid to take risks pretend to be prudent. People who do not have the guts to challenge pretend to be kind and merciful. They may supply hundreds of reasons and justifications to convince us that it was prudence – not cowardice – that stopped them from speaking out what they ought to have spoken or that prevented them from doing what they ought to have done.

 

There is another intriguing attitude we notice in persons who are called to task. They would expect everybody to cooperate with them and support them in their mission. In James and John, the disciples of Jesus, we observe this attitude of entitlement, moral indignation, frustration and even anger when they encountered indifference and resistance from the part of the Samaritans. John and James expected a wholehearted support from everybody as they were traveling towards Jerusalem. With great prophetic zeal and anger, they asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” We often encounter many such zealots who expect others to dance according to their tunes and get frustrated and violent when people fail to respond. However, the reaction of Jesus was poles apart. We are told that “Jesus turned and rebuked them.” The Samaritan opposition, in fact, gave Jesus a chance to teach his disciples a valuable lesson about the cost of discipleship or the price of following Jesus. The Evangelist introduces one after the other a number of people approaching Jesus ready to follow him while some others were invited by Jesus himself to follow him. Through his responses to those candidates, Jesus reveals the cost of discipleship.

 

Let us see what are the essentials to be his disciples according to Jesus? First of all, he or she should not be a gold-digger, a fortune seeker. To the one who declared, “I will follow you wherever you go” Jesus reminds, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” To the one who asked Jesus for permission to clear up his filial and familial obligations before answering his call Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” There are some people who show ‘Atlas symptom’ – an illusion that they are carrying the whole world on their shoulders! They believe that everything depends on them and if they are not there, things are going to collapse. They continuously say without saying: Après moi, le déluge (After me, the deluge!). They often give lame excuses to avoid or to escape from other important tasks waiting for them. The response of another person seems more reasonable:  “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Here Jesus provides a clear indication of the need of immediacy in response. Those who show a tendency to procrastinate and postpone when called to duty, reveal their inclination towards idleness and sluggishness. Time and tide wait for none! It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) who wrote in his famous poem A Psalm of Life the following couplets:


Act, - act in the living Present!


The heart within and God o’er head!


Jesus too preached a doctrine of vigorous action. He asks us not to wait for the future, however pleasant; he advises us to bury the past and stop daydreaming about the future but be fully present and fully active in the present. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Detachment, fearlessness, availability, enthusiasm, and promptness are the characteristic features of a true disciple of Jesus. Gold-diggers and procrastinators are not fit to be disciples!

 

Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

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Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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