Thirteen Sunday in Ordinary Time, C
Are we prepared to make love’s free Yes to God?
As the time drew near for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely took the road to Jerusalem and towards his own death. Jesus had made up his mind – he had chosen freely God’s will for him. In Jesus’ decision we understand that it is love’s free Yes to God that constitutes true freedom. Pope Benedict taught that like Jesus “the greatest liberty is to say ‘yes,’ to conform with the will of God.”
- Adhering to God's will/covenant prevents us from doing things that are not of our nature – which is to love – because it establishes structures of interpersonal justice (i.e., the Commandments) from which love is nurtured and thrives. Jesus re-established this covenant by his Sacrifice on the Cross.
God has a plan for us. We either consent to it or go our own selfish way. Of course, God is asking us of to have faith that in renouncing our own will, God will lead us to the possession of eternal life. Here again, Pope Benedict says that in the decision to conform with the will of God, we find our unity and integration. We come out of ourselves, surpassing ourselves. And this makes sense because we are social beings, so it is “only in saying ‘yes’ does man or woman really become himself or herself.”
It is a difficult decision because we tend to be selfish. Surrendering our will is counterintuitive. Why? Because we think that we will lose something of our self. We prefer to follow our own inclinations but, as St Paul says, this only provides an opening for self-indulgence. Paul calls this the yoke of slavery, but to what? Our sins, our selfishness, our desires and wants, perhaps all – but certainly to following our own will and to our narrow way of seeing and interacting with our world.
Let’s talk about the first reading and the Gospel. They are meant to be compared. In both we find the model of reluctant master and willing disciple. Elijah tries to deter Elisha and Jesus tries to deter the man he meets on the road. And just as Elijah was journeying to his death, Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem and death on the Cross. The point being discipleship is a tough gig, not that either Elijah or Jesus did not want disciples.
Relating this to our discipleship, Jesus wants us to journey with him, but only if we follow him on a path of absolute surrender to God. Otherwise there is no point following him. The Lord calls us to belong to something far greater than ourselves. So, we have to make love’s free Yes to God. It is absolute, requiring the renunciation of our own will, of our own desires. Do we trust God or ourselves here? It would be stupidity thinking that we know better than God.
Today we are confronted with the question: Are we prepared to go the whole journey with the Lord? Are we prepared to make love’s free Yes to God? Conversely, what might be holding us back?