June 26, 2022
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 99

1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Luke 9:51-62

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Renewed Personal Encounter with Jesus

And to another he said, “Follow me. ”But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home. ”To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

- Luke

It’s a good thing that salvation is a gift rather than something we can earn or we’re all in trouble. Based on today’s reading from Luke, even the best people I know fail the standards Jesus sets, let alone us ordinary people.

The passage is frightening in demanding that we let the dead bury the dead and simply walk away from our families to follow Jesus.

I sympathize with the people who instead walked away from him. Who would want to follow someone so harsh? If this were my only encounter with Jesus, I wouldn’t be a Christian. Fortunately, it’s not.  

As I puzzled over what to make of this passage, I recalled a recent homily by the wise and wonderful Larry Gillick S.J. In it, he graded himself an F as a Christian or failing to live up to one of Jesus’s tougher commands (sorry, I forget which one). Fortunately, he reminded us, Jesus still loves us. Thank you, Fr. Gillick!

Maybe there’s hope even though I can’t think of anyone who is “fit for the kingdom of God” based on the criteria in today’s reading.

Despite this, the “A” student in me still asks what I can do to make the grade. Maybe our ordinary efforts will suffice even as Jesus challenges us to raise our standards. Unfortunately, it's shockingly easy to fail to meet even my own  modest standards.

Just hours before writing this reflection, I proved this during a trip to the grocery store. My local chain offers us a chance to donate our change to the food bank by pushing an “agree” button on the computer screen.

But I didn’t. Why? I’m still asking myself this since I would never miss the 75 cents and I donate regularly to the Food Bank.

Jesus asks his followers to abandon everything to proclaim the kingdom and I can’t even push a button on a screen to make a tiny donation to feed the hungry???  What’s wrong with me? It’s humbling.

Mea culpa!

So, Fr. Gillick, I stand with you in the “F” line as a “wanna be Christian” who trusts in God’s mercy and second chances. You’d better believe I’ll be touching that “agree” button from now on and sent a check for more than 75 cents to the Food Bank!

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