We have no good apart from God. That makes Jesus’ call to follow him an invitation to freedom. This is freedom to revel in the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, and patience. This is freedom to not be imprisoned by anything that would keep us from the fullness of the life God has given us. This is the path of life.
Readings and Psalm
- 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Elijah says to Elisha, Follow me and do not continue plowing
- Psalm 16
I have set the Lord always before me. (Ps. 16:8)
- Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Love is the whole law, gift of the Spirit
- Luke 9:51-62
Jesus says, Follow me and do not look back
What does it mean to be a disciple? Today’s texts answer this question in various ways.
Elisha was given the burdensome mantle of Elijah. Up until this point he’d simply been a student of the great prophet. Then, without much warning, Elijah passed the leadership responsibility onto him and transitioned dramatically from this life into the next. Because it was an immense responsibility, Elisha asked his master for a double portion of his spirit and was given it. God generously provided for Elisha so that he could faithfully continue Elijah’s work.
Paul spells out the mission before us. Last week, he pointed out the power we’ve been given through our baptism. Now he explains that with the Spirit of God within, our lives should be different. He contrasts the work of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to use our freedom in Christ for good, so that God can transform our lives and empower us for ministry.
In the gospel, Jesus faces more resistance from those he’s called. People conjure up all sorts of excuses why they can’t start right away, but Jesus will have none of it. He’s calling and he wants a straight answer now. You’re in or you’re out. He makes it clear that answering his call and living the life of discipleship requires no less than everything.
These passages are difficult. They show how much God is demanding of those who wish to follow. Those called are asked to give everything. No wonder there is resistance. Yet, they also remind us that the Spirit will support our work and, in turn, give us everything to enable us to answer the call.