Pastor Letter

Father Mike’s Homiletter – June 26, 2022 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time     

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

Summer has begun, and we are finally getting the warmer weather we wanted  so badly a few weeks ago.  It may just be my imagination, but now that it’s here, it seems to me that the trees are leafier, the grass thicker and the shrubs denser this spring than they are some years.  One of God’s many lavish gifts to us! 

And our first reading this week describes another of God’s gifts:  God instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha as his own successor, so that God’s people would not be without a prophet when Elijah returned to the Lord.   Elijah did as he was told:  he sought out, and without a word, and threw his cloak over the shoulders of the young man who would succeed him.   Elisha knew what Elijah’s gesture meant.  After promising to follow Elijah, Elisha asks permission to say good bye to his parents, and proceeds to destroy the essentials of his life as a farmer by slaughtering his oxen and burning his plow.  He commits himself totally to follow Elijah, not as an equal, but as his attendant and student.  Elisha recognized that he did not yet know what was coming, but that God would teach him what he needed to know.  He trusted the Lord and Elijah as the Lord’s representative. 

In our reading from Galatians, some members of the community are telling new converts they had to comply with Jewish law to become Christians.  In other words, they were clinging to the old familiar way, even as they claimed to embrace the new.  Were they hedging their bets?  Afraid of the unknown?  Although the word “baptism” means to “plunge”, they weren’t quite jumping in with both feet.  Paul explains that the law has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ:  the Galatians no longer need to be slaves to the law because Jesus has freed them to live in the Spirit. 

In our Gospel, we hear that Jesus knows His time has come, and He begins the final journey to Jerusalem.  He sent messengers ahead of Him to prepare the various towns for His arrival, so that He could preach the good news to them, but one Samaritan village would not receive Him.  The Samaritans were an offshoot of Judaism, and they had basic disagreements with some of the teachings of the Judaism centered in Jerusalem.  They had no use for Jerusalem, and apparently, when they learned Jesus was going there, they decided not to get involved with Him.    But rather than punish them for their rejection, Jesus merely continues to the next village.  Along the way, some people volunteer to join Him, but Jesus warns that He has no settled resting place.  He invites others to follow Him, but they make excuses to delay doing so.  Jesus finally utters the underlying truth of  the mission:  no one who is clinging to the past is ready for the Kingdom.  We must focus completely on following the Lord – like Elisha, holding nothing back.  And in truth, Jesus held nothing back when He came to earth to save us – how could we give anything less in return for such an unimaginable gift? 

As this is my last Homiletter to you, I am going to take this last paragraph for a personal message.  I want to encourage all of you to look to the future with joy and hope.  As today’s Psalm says, set the Lord before you with confidence.  God does not forget or neglect any of His children and He will be with you always.  Look for Him, pay attention to His will for you.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have been your pastor for the last four years, and have tried to do my best to bring the IC community closer to the God who loves you so much.  I apologize if I have hurt or offended any of you, and assure you it was never my intention to be unkind.  I am very grateful to the many parishioners who have shown me much kindness and made the effort to help the IC community become a more complete expression of our shared faith.  I wish you all well, and will keep you in my prayers. 

Peace, Father Mike

Food for Thought …

          • The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people. 

            • Leo Tolstoy