30 June – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Lord We Serve
We acclaim Christ who is more to us than all the world and whose Spirit has made us resolve to follow him wherever he leads us.
– The Sunday Missal
1 Kings 19:16,19-21
The Lord said to Elijah, ‘You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’ Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.
Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.
As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community
I am a considerably emotional person. And one of the things that happens when I get emotional is that I can be very cutting in my words. There are times when I am so bent in conveying how I feel that my message becoms like a knife, and the person on the receiving end forgets the content but remembers instead the manner in which it was said. The communication becomes destructive rather than constructive in the end. I rationalise it to myself that it’s a habit that I’ve picked up in the course of interacting with my family – it’s just how we communicate. We can yell and shout our heads off, but at the end of the day we feel like we’ve expressed all that we needed to express, and life goes on as per normal. However, this manner of communication doesn’t work with everyone.
Being in a relationship to me, is like having a mirror held up to my face. It shows the ugly sides of me as well as the good. The question however is whether am I willing or prepared to see what is being reflected in the mirror? Am I willing to discover the truth about myself, in my relationships with people, and acknowledge the fact that I need to work on it? There are times when pride steps in the way, and I try to protect myself and my destructive behaviours through justifications and explanations. But at the end of the day, the truth remains. People are hurt and relationships are broken. Am I courageous enough to see it?
It’s the same I realised in my relationship with God. He is constantly showing me a mirror, through my daily interactions and circumstances, to look at myself and at Him. For me to realise the areas where I need working on. The beauty about being in a relationship with God is this –we can trust in His grace to be there for us, as we discover the moments when we have been ugly in our actions, thoughts and behaviour towards others (and even to ourselves). Change begins with a gradual acceptance of ourselves, especially our areas of weakness. Everytime we learn to accept a truth about ourselves, we find the courage to face it (or address it) and something within us shifts. Something within us begins to change. And our interactions with others begin to change. That is God shaping and moulding us. The beauty about being in a relationship with God is this – He will never leave us alone in our current state of being. If we are open to seeing Him in our lives, He is constantly there, moulding us, shaping us and helping us to become better versions of ourselves.
As a song inspired by Psam S1:6 says, “You desire truth in the inwards parts.” Honesty can be brutal. But if we are willing to be open and to look within ourselves, it is the key which sets us free. And it is how we learn to love ourselves – through humble acceptance and repentance, with God’s grace.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: We pray Lord for the grace to accept ourselves, including our imperfections and for the courage to address it.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for the people whom you have placed in our lives who have been honest enough to help us discover the truth about ourselves.