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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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Hilary of Arles: It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. In some ways, that was true for today’s saint. 
<p>Born in France in the early fifth century, Hilary came from an aristocratic family. In the course of his education he encountered his relative, Honoratus, who encouraged the young man to join him in the monastic life. Hilary did so. He continued to follow in the footsteps of Honoratus as bishop. Hilary was only 29 when he was chosen bishop of Arles. </p><p>The new, youthful bishop undertook the role with confidence. He did manual labor to earn money for the poor. He sold sacred vessels to ransom captives. He became a magnificent orator. He traveled everywhere on foot, always wearing simple clothing. </p><p>That was the bright side. Hilary encountered difficulty in his relationships with other bishops over whom he had some jurisdiction. He unilaterally deposed one bishop. He selected another bishop to replace one who was very ill–but, to complicate matters, did not die! Pope St. Leo the Great kept Hilary a bishop but stripped him of some of his powers. </p><p>Hilary died at 49. He was a man of talent and piety who, in due time, had learned how to be a bishop.</p> American Catholic Blog True freedom lies in the ability to align one’s actions freely with the truth, so as to achieve authentic human happiness both now and in the life to come. Jesus promised, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31–32).

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