Engaging the Gospel – Luke 9:51-62

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 9:51-62

Today’s Gospel continues a theme from last Sunday – “the nobility and difficulty of the Christian vocation,” as St John Paul II described it:

Jesus calls us to follow Him personally. This call, it may be said, is at the very heart of the Gospel.

We think of all those calls of which the evangelists tell us. One of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.’ This is a drastic way of saying: leave everything, immediately, for Me.

JP II went on to put this scene in its proper perspective, guiding us to its meaning for our own lives. The specific way that we dedicate ourselves to following Christ is shaped by such factors as our state in life and our unique talents. The Lord doesn’t call all to serve “in an identical manner,” but all of us are called to the same spirit of radical commitment to Christ:

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Gospel request for heroic renunciations…commits everyone…to be ready in spirit to carry out what is required, should one be called upon to do so…The counsels therefore imply for everyone an interior detachment, a donation of self to Christ, without which there is no true evangelical spirit.

— General Audience of October 28, 1987.

It’s only natural to feel our inadequacy to respond to such a radical call. But we don’t have to rely on our own strength. The Lord in His mercy will help us, if we cooperate with His grace and take a single step toward Him.

Question for reflection: Do I keep putting off a resolution to follow the Lord more faithfully?

Advertisements

Engaging the Gospel – Mark 1:14-20

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B): Gospel – Mark 1:14-20

Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God, and His calling of the apostles, are profoundly interrelated:

The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the ‘little flock’ of those whom Jesus came to gather around Him, the flock whose shepherd He is. They form Jesus’ true family.

–Catechism paragraph 764.

Every human being is called into this gathering (542).

First, “there is the choice of the Twelve, with Peter as their head.” Because the number of apostles represents the twelve tribes of Israel, Jesus is signifying that His gathering, the Church, is the new Israel (765).

Indeed, around the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were praying for just such a renewed gathering by God.

Benedict XVI explains that they longed for a qahal, the Old Testament word for a divinely-called assembly of the people: “a qahal coming from God himself, a new gathering and foundation of the people, increasingly became the center of Jewish hope.”

Qahal was rendered into Greek as ekklesia – the New Testament word for “Church.” By using this technical term to describe herself, the Church declares that she is the hoped-for qahal.

“This petition is granted in us…the chosen final gathering of God’s people” through Christ (Called to Communion, p. 31).

Question for reflection: How has listening to God’s call changed me?