THEME: You Will Show Me the Path of Life

BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie




1Kings 19:16,19-21
Psalm 15
Galatians 5:1,13-18
Luke 9:51-62

The readings of this 13th Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year are well loaded with highly inspiring words. From one perspective, we can capture all of them under this theme taken from Psalm 15, the Responsorial psalm of today: “You will show me the path of life.” The remarkable thing is that it is only in the path that God shows that one finds fullness of joy and happiness because there one encounters the presence of God. In life, God invites us daily to follow that path even when we imagine in our human ignorance that other paths are more attractive.

1. In the first reading from 1 Kgs 19:16,19-21, we see both Elijah and Elisha being invited to follow this new path of life. In the context, Elijah has just complained to God that his life has become meaningless as his people have abandoned the true path. For Elijah, life has become unbearable and his prophetic ministry is no longer attractive seeing that his colleagues have all been massacred. Elijah paints a hopeless scenario, but God lets him know there still a new way. For God, all Elijah needs is to get a collaborator, one who would share in his ministry. This chosen one is Elisha. The call of Elisha is somewhat dramatic. He abandons his life as a wealthy herdsman and follows Elijah. His life now follows a new path, the path that God Himself shows. Elisha appears to recognise with the psalmist of Psalm 15 that the Lord is truly his portion and cup. In Elisha we see what it means to hear God’s call and follow on the new path.
2. The second reading from Gal 5:1,13-18 warns against slavery to self-indulgence. Paul warns his audience to distinguish between liberty in Christ and libertinism, which is a vicious inclination to act according to one’s whims and caprices. Our freedom in Christ is not freedom to do as we want but freedom as the Spirit of God in us directs. Only those who move in the Spirit can truly exercise Christian freedom. The Spirit shows us the true path of life, the path of love and community consciousness. Those guided by the Spirit never live in fear no matter the external forces that threaten them.

3. In the Gospel from Luke 9:51-62, Jesus indicates the true path in following him. First, he rebukes his two disciples who want to call down fire on the inhabitants of a Samaritan village for refusing them passage through their territory on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus himself does not see these Samaritan villagers as enemies. He knows their refusal is because the journey is to Jerusalem. These Samaritans are controlled by the ancient hatred between them and the Jerusalem Jews. Jesus teaches us that there are many other ways to avoid open conflict. He leads his disciples through another way. He condemns the arrogance of using superior power which his two disciples propose. In life, we can avoid many violent conflicts by looking for other peaceful ways and paths.

In this same journey to Jerusalem, Jesus encounters three categories of people on the road to discipleship. The first wants to follow Jesus wherever he goes, but Jesus alerts him that the journey with him has no defined boundary and resting place. The second is invited by Jesus to follow, but he wants first to fulfil his family duty of burying his father. This sounds logical, but Jesus shocks his hearers by urging him to see the call as more urgent than the duty to bury the dead. The third wants to follow but intends to say goodbye to home people. Again Jesus instructs that there is no turning back in following him. We are not told whether Jesus rejected any of these candidates for discipleship. It is likely they all followed him eventually. He only wants to teach on the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus is following a new path of life. One cannot afford to go back to embrace the old way of life. It doesn’t mean we should not bury our dead ones, rather, we should not go back to the old ways, represented here by the dead.

4. As Christians, we are blessed to have found a new path of life in and with Jesus. We cannot afford to go back to the old ways of the world. Our new life should set the pace which others should follow. If others run to idols and traditional deities to settle their differences, we should stick to our new faith and our new freedom in the Spirit. If others hate, we should show them the new path of love. If others speak the logic of violence, we should correct them with the logic of peace. It is not always easy, but it becomes simpler when we remember that our real refuge is in God, as He is our inheritance, our portion and cup.

May God continue to show us the path of life, the fullness of joy in His presence and at His right hand happiness for ever!

Fr. Luke Ijezie


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