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DO WE ACCEPT THE DEMANDS OF DISCIPLESHIP?

Father Francis's picture
Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Kings 19:19-21 & Mt. 5:33-37

Elijah was a great prophet of the Old Testament and is sometimes presented as representing the essence of prophecy in lsrael. Before his death he was moved by God to appoint Elisha as his successor. Apparently Elisha was rather well off financially to judge from the fact that he owned 12 yoke of oxen and had several men in his employment. When called by Elijah he was at first somewhat reluctant, asking to spend a moment with his parents. Elijah grudgingly granted permission in a rather enigmatic way: "Go back, for have I done anything to you?"

Was this incident what Jesus had in mind when He said of the demands of discipleship, "No one, having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God”(Lk 9:62)? Elisha, however, immediately repented of his hesitation. Slaughtering the oxen and burning his plough marked his complete break with his former life. Now he was ready to accept his office of prophet, which was symbolized by his receiving the cloak of Elijah.

At our Baptism we received a white garment, the sign of our complete dedication to Christ. In a sense it, too, was a cloak of prophecy because a prophet is a witness for God, and through Baptism we are called to be witnesses to the truth by word and action.

Jesus in today's Gospel tells us that we are to speak the truth openly and to live honestly. There must be no hesitation in bearing witness to our faith or in living according to the Gospel. Once we have committed ourselves to Christ, there must be no looking back, no compromise with values and principles which are contrary to His teachings. The lesson from today's readings asks each of us whether we take the cost and the demands of discipleship seriously.

Lord Jesus, through our Baptism we have been anointed as your prophets. May we strenuously be witnesses to You in all that we say and do.

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