Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thirteenth Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 13 OTC

 

Readings: 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Gal 4:31b-5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV 1 Kings 19:16 You shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" 21 And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.

2/ Reading II: RSV Galatians 4:31 So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 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." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."



I. THEME: Our vocation and its requirements

 

            God let us exist in this world for a reason, because He doesn’t do useless thing. He chose the Blessed Mary to give birth for His Son, John Baptist to prepare the way for Christ, the pastor of Ars to bring sinners back to Him, Mother Teresa to help the poor, Teresa of Infant Jesus to pray for the Church, etc. Each one of us has a different vocation which is important and connected with our existence. We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us to find out our vocation and to fulfill it.

            Today readings want to emphasize people’s different vocation and the necessary requirements to fulfill it. In the first reading, the prophet Elijah obeyed God to find Elisha and anointed him to be his replacement as God’s prophet. When Elisha recognized his prophetic vocation, he asked for permission to go home to say good bye to his parents, “took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people” to eat; and then came and followed Elijah. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Galatian faithful to realize their vocation as Christians. When they were baptized, they are called to sacrifice for others, to die for their flesh and to live under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In the Gospel, Jesus listed out the basic requirements of his disciples under different circumstances. They are invited to live in love, not to worry about material things or too concern for their parents and family.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Elisha arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.”

1.1/ Elijah chose Elisha to be his replacement according to God’s commandment.

            Today passage reported Elisha’s vocation. After hearing God’s instruction, the prophet Elijah went out to look for Elisha; when he found him, he anointed him to be his replacement. Twelve yokes of oxen show Elisha belonged to a very rich family because a rich family has only one or two oxen. When Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha, the latter understood right away this act. It is corresponding to the Vestition ceremony and the beginning the postulant year in religious orders today. Elisha’ request is normal because he needed to say good bye to his parent. Elijah’s answer is difficult to understand; he might want to say that I didn’t prevent you to do that.

  

1.2/ Elisha’s determined actions: His actions are heroic and courage; he didn’t regret his properties because he knew they are God’s blessing for his family. He “took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate.” This action showed he is ready to terminate his career to follow the prophet Elijah to learn about his new ministry. He didn’t ask Elijah about where to live and what to eat before he follows him, but believed in God’s providence for him.

            We should learn from Elisha’ heroic actions; once we determine to follow God, we must determine and courageously give up all, such as: parent, career, properties, etc. If we aren’t determined, we shall be tempted to return to our formal life. An attitude of “half in and half out” shall not help us to follow God until the end.  

2/ Reading II: The Christian vocation: to serve others with love

  

2.1/ Christians are called to be children of freedom.

            St. Paul wrote, “So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

            St. Paul’s concept of freedom is difficult to understand because it relates to the Law. In his Letter to the Romans, he explained more clearly: Christ came to liberate us from slavery for the Law, sin and death. These three things have a close connection with each other: In order for an act to be a sin, there must be a law to prohibit it; and if one intentionally violates the Law, he must be put to death.

            Many people have a wrong definition of freedom; they said, “Freedom is to do whatever one wants to do,” and then use their freedom to live according to their passion. They forget that once they become slavery for their flesh, they shall no longer have freedom. For example, people have freedom to gamble; but when they are addicted to gambling, they no longer have freedom to say no to gamble. They know it is wrong to use the money to pay mortgage or to buy food for his family; but they can’t control their bad habit of gambling. The bad results which can be happened are: their house is confiscated, their family is separated, their career is lost and their name is ruined.

            The true freedom must lead people to the truth, love, good and life. If one uses the name of freedom to freely fighting and killing each other, that person becomes a slave for his flesh, sin and death.

           

2.2/ Christians are called to live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

            St. Paul taught the Galatian faithful, “But I say, live by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.”

            These are teachings which must be correctly explained. Many people condemned Paul of convincing people to disregard the Law which he himself confessed it is good because it was given by God through Moses. Is it true that when the faithful were baptized, they no longer have to keep the Law? St. Paul wanted us to differentiate two ways of living:

            (1) According to the flesh: This is the way of life in which people live according to falsities, commit sins, hate others; and this way shall lead to death. As said above, sin and the Law have a close connection; if we live according to the Law, we live according to the flesh. For example, the Law only requires people to meet the minimum requirement, such as; to confess once a year or to attend Mass once a week. If we only do the minimum requirement, how can we advance in virtue and in the way of perfection? The Law requires only justice; but if we do things only as justice requires, where is charity?

            (2) According to the Holy Spirit: This is the way of life in which people live according to the truth, do good deeds, love others; and this way shall foster life. When we live according to charity, we do not only the minimum that the Law requires, but also things that beyond the Law. This is the reason why Jesus teaches his disciples the way to perfection in the Gospel according to Matthews, chapter five, “You have heard that it (the Law) was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5:38-39).

            Therefore, if one lives according to the Spirit, that one fulfilled all the Law because he did good things that it doesn’t require.

 

3/ Gospel: The vocation of being Jesus’ disciples: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

3.1/ The purpose of following Jesus

            If people want to go to Jerusalem from Galilee, there are three ways: First, they can follow the coast of the Mediterranean Sea; this way is easy but they must climb up to Jerusalem at the high of 3,600 feet. Secondly, they can cross the Samarian villages; this way is the shortest but the Jews shall meet opposition from the Samaritans as Jesus and his disciples met in today passage. Lastly, they can travel along the Jordan River to Jericho, and from there climb up to Jerusalem; this way is easier than the first way because the slope isn’t as steep as the first way.

            Two disciples, James and John only remained at justice, they love those who love them and hate those who hate them. If they stop at the justice, how can they preach the Gospel for all people? This is the reason why Jesus rebuked them; he trains them to bring people to God, not to condemn people.

           

3.2/ The requirements of Christ’s disciples:

            (1) Not too concern about material needs: In the ancient time, a preacher must go from one city to another; the most popular and cheap way is to preach during walking. A preacher can’t build a place wherever he preaches because it is time consuming and he has no money to do it.

            Jesus didn’t hide anything from those who want to be his disciples: They must accept the itinerant way and can’t be fixed in one place. They should accept the simple life because they can’t bring many things with them on the way; the one with the least luggage shall travel the furthest. They must believe that God shall take care of those who work for Him. If they carefully plan out, they can’t be on the way. These are reasons why Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

            (2) Not too concern about their parents: First of all we need to determine that Jesus doesn’t teach people to dishonor their parent because this opposes with the fourth of the Ten Commandments; Jesus himself didn’t do that. He handed his mother for John to take care of her when he no longer lives in the world. What Jesus wants to emphasize here is the urgency of the preaching of the Gospel in order for God’s kingdom to quickly come.

            Jesus said to the one who wanted to first bury his father, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” We can’t literally understand this verse because the one who died can’t bury the one who had just died. What Jesus wanted to emphasize is that if the burying of one’s parent prevents the preaching of the Gospel, the preacher shouldn’t try to come home. God shall prepare to have other person to do it for him. Moreover, to the people who have faith, they can do many better things for their parents, such as: celebrating or offering a Mass, praying or doing good deeds with intentions for their parents. If one is afraid of “dishonoring” and comes home to bury his parents, he is not worthy to be Christ’s disciple.

            (3) Once followed God, they must determine to follow until the end: Once again, God doesn’t encourage “dishonoring parent.” If one’s family is near – only taking a short distance as in Elisha’s case in the first reading, God shall not prohibit. What Jesus prohibited here is for the one who lives far away and the one who is still hesitated to follow Jesus. In the first case, he must spend lots of time; in the second case, he could be prevented by his family. Once he decided to follow Jesus, he must imitate Elisha to kill his oxen, to break the yoke and burn the oxen. If he is hesitated and keeps them in case of coming back, it is very difficult for him to overcome all obstacles to follow him until the end.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - God let us exist in this world for a purpose. We must find out what is it and do His will.

            - The basic vocation is the vocation of Christians. This vocation requires us to live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to have the true freedom.

            - If God call us to dedicate our whole life for Him, we must give up everything: our own will, material things, parents, to pay attention only to preach the Gospel and to bring many people to Him.

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