My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Once again the readings we have just heard from Sacred Scripture offer us a timely message. Because they invite us to reflect on our Christian vocation — the demands of our calling to follow Jesus Christ.
This past week we became more aware of the dramatic changes that are taking place in our society, especially in the fact that our society is trying to change God’s plan for marriage and the family.
So these times are times that call us to live out the truths of our religion with greater love, with greater joy and with new enthusiasm.
The readings of today’s Mass remind us that everyone of us has a vocation. Jesus is calling each one of us just as he called the people in the Gospel today: Follow me!
Christ is always passing by; he’s always acting and alive in our lives. He’s real! He’s a true divine Person. He is not just some teacher who lived a long time ago. He’s present in our lives and close to us in his love. Today! Now! He wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us. He’s calling us to love him just as he loves each one of us.
But Jesus told the man in today’s passage of the Gospel today that following him doesn’t mean we are going to have an easy life. We are called to leave our old life behind. We are called to have new priorities.
We also heard that in the first reading of today’s Mass.
The prophet Elijah calls Elisha to follow him. And we heard that striking image of Elisha killing all his farm animals and setting his farming equipment on fire.
For us it looks like an extreme symbol, kind of a little too much. But it’s meant to show us what it means to be a disciple. It is a radical decision for Jesus. And it’s not that God is calling us to destroy our past. But he’s calling us to move in a new direction. We cannot let our past hold us back. We need to let go of things. We cannot hold onto things. We cannot try to follow Jesus only halfway. He’s calling us to seriously follow him, as we all know.
And what I always find very very interesting is that God comes into our lives — right where we are at. He comes to us in the middle of everything else we are doing.
The prophet Elijah goes out and finds Elisha out in the fields, where he is working. Jesus encounters people as he is walking through their towns and villages. He finds them in their homes, with their families.
And that’s the way he is also with each one of us. Jesus comes to us where we are at — in our homes, at work, in our social relationships. He comes to us in the people we meet, in the circumstances of our days. These are the places where he calls us and says to each one of us, where we are at: Follow me!
And again Jesus is not calling us to leave our work or to turn our back on our families. No! Just the opposite. He is calling us to follow him where we are at — in our families, through our families, in our work, through our work. In the daily realities of our lives.
So whatever it is that we do every day, that’s what we have to transform into a place where we find and where we encounter and where we share Jesus with the people around us.
So when you are at home, with your children and your spouse, or when you are at work or with your neighbors. Every moment, you have a chance to follow Jesus. Every moment you have a chance to serve God!
Jesus says to the man today in the Gospel: You, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. And, my brothers and sisters, he’s saying that to each one of us too!
We don’t have to “go” somewhere else. We can proclaim, and we are called to proclaim, the Kingdom of God wherever we are. Because we can follow Jesus right where we’re at.
How do we do that? By always saying “yes” to what Jesus is asking of us. By serving others. By trying to make people’s lives a little easier, a little happier. Because, my brothers and sisters, people should notice as they meet us, as they relate to us, that we are Christians! That we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Our work, our homes, are the places where we meet Jesus. Where we take up our cross and follow him. What a beautiful message that happens in our daily lives. In the ordinary things that we do.
As St. Paul tells us in the second reading of today’s Mass, our vocation is true freedom! You were called for freedom, brothers and sisters, St. Paul tells us.
But we also know that our Christian vocation is a challenge. It’s a struggle every day.
This week, as I said before, we see that one of the challenges and struggles we face is that we are living in a society that is running away from God. Our society, unfortunately — at least part of our society — is losing even the most basic elements of God’s plan for the human person — the truths that life is God’s gift, that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and that the family is the primary institution for society.
So we are facing a serious challenge to our vocation and our witness as the family of God. So, as we hear the call from Jesus to follow him today, it is urgent, my dear brothers and sisters, that we listen to his call and that we commit ourselves once again to be generous and faithful to what God is asking of us.
So let’s keep pressing forward in our Christian lives. Let us tell Jesus today, as the people in today’s readings, that we want to follow him wherever he goes, wherever he wants to lead us.
Let us also especially pray for our Church and our society. Today, especially, let us pray for our new mayor, Mr. Garcetti, whose inauguration will begin later this evening. Let us ask our good God to grant him wisdom and prudence, that he may promote and defend the dignity of the human person and the family, and lead the city of Los Angeles to become a better city.
And let us, as we do always, turn to Mary our Blessed Mother, who followed the call of God in a radical way, and let us ask her to help us to be more faithful and to try to do God’s will in everything we do in our ordinary life.
1. Readings (Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Ps. 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; Gal. 5:1, 13-18; Luke 19:51-62.