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Bible Reflections View Comments

Are We Waiting for a Better Offer?
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013
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Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about other people. Most of the time it’s out of a sense of genuine care and responsibility. Sometimes it can be a misplaced resentment of what other people seem to have that we don’t. We’re not worrying about them as much as we are worrying about ourselves. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to look at our own problems and the places where we need to move on.

Worrying is natural. Letting that concern take over our lives can be a problem. This is especially the case when we don’t want to do anything to alleviate the things we’re worried about. We simply want to stay stuck in the anxiety and the fretting. Taking action can be difficult and can make demands on us that we’d rather avoid. So we convince ourselves that the fussing itself is our occupation.

Today’s lectionary readings offer us a way to cut through some of this static that worry can cause. In today’s Gospel, several people express an interest in following Jesus, but in response to his invitation they offer a variety of reasons why they can’t respond “just yet.” How we interpret these responses may tell us something about which of our own concerns might be taking up too much psychic space in our lives.

In contrast to the would-be followers of Jesus, the first reading tells us the story of Elisha making the choice to follow the great prophet Elijah as his successor. He says farewell to his parents, he slaughters the oxen he’s been using to plow the field, he roasts them over a fire built from the yoke and plow. He feeds his village and is now free to follow the prophet.

In this one scene, we see the kind of decisive response that Jesus asks of his followers. If we truly want to be his disciples, then the gospel message needs to be the most important thing in our lives. It doesn’t mean we abandon our other responsibilities. But it does mean that we don’t let those responsibilities become excuses for not living Jesus’ message. We don’t set aside the demands for justice and truth in order to get ahead in the workplace. We don’t let friends and family members fill our lives with so many mundane demands for attention that we have no time for prayer or for Sunday Mass. We don’t look down on those who are poor and homeless so that we can continue to feel comfortable with our savings accounts and possessions. More than anything else, we need to become more attentive to when we’re making excuses for ourselves or others.

Neither Elijah nor Jesus was willing to listen to excuses from people who wanted to follow them half-heartedly or selfishly. They set the bar as high as it needed to be in order to ensure that those who followed knew what was expected of them.

We all know the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket. But sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. Many people want to hedge their bets. They’re reluctant to make a commitment. But any successful entrepreneur will tell you that if you’re not willing to commit everything you have to making a great idea a reality will say that those people will likely fail.

Again and again in our lives, we will feel a desire to follow Jesus more devotedly. We need to prepare now to respond to that call wholeheartedly.


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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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