Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 30, 2019)

Today’s Scriptures are a strong reminder that following Jesus is a challenge.

We heard St. Paul tell us: Jesus has set you free to love. Live by the Spirit; don’t become slaves of the world again. Paul is echoing Jesus in today’s Gospel: if you want to follow me wherever I go, don’t seek security in this world. Once you set your hand to proclaiming the kingdom of God, don’t look back at what you have left behind.

Jesus reminds us that journeying with him will take us in one direction - to the cross. We must be willing to complete the journey with Jesus if we want to share in his glory.

Our problem as human beings is often our focus. When we think of what we are by our baptism and profession of vows–members of the Body of Christ, sharers in the life and mission of Jesus, the presence of Jesus in our world –then we want to give ourselves to the work of the kingdom; we love and forgive and show compassion.

But too often we let our minds and hearts focus on other very natural desires –desires for security, for intimacy with family and friends, for acceptance by others –and, “looking back,” we take our hands from the plow and forget Jesus’ call to save the world with him. We can help ourselves to focus more on Jesus and our call if we learn to consciously remember Jesus’ presence with us as we begin each new activity of our day. Just a momentary prayer can keep us focused.

Jesus is calling us to a love gentle enough to endure all things without violence, a love strong enough to stand against the whole world in loyalty to the work and ideals of the kingdom of God. We know that we cannot love this way by ourselves.

Jesus has promised to be with us at every moment of our life. His Spirit will prompt us in our efforts to love as Jesus loved. The challenge is great; even greater is the grace Jesus will give us to meet the challenge. Let us refocus ourselves today at this Eucharist.

Jesus is here; let us take him with us; let us journey with him. He desires to lead us back to our Father.