YEAR B: HOMILY FOR WEDNESDAY OF THE 26TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Answering the Call to Ministry.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
_“ No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” *Luke 9:62*_
Our Gospel passage today presents us with three examples of persons who are called to ministry. One who came to Jesus on his own declaring his intention to follow Him, another who Jesus called to follow and the third who wanted to follow Jesus but was wanted to say farewell first to his family. From these three persons, we learn three important lessons about ministry.
First, ministry should never be considered as a career or a money-making enterprise. This is what we learn from Jesus’ statement, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58. This was Jesus’ response to the first person who came to see Jesus. Jesus needed to warn him ahead of time that the life he was embarking on is NOT A LIFE OF COMFORT.
Most often, when we forget this truth, we begin to complain like the Israelites who forgot they were only on a journey to the Promised Land; we begin to ask for milk and honey in the desert.
Do you feel attracted to ministry? What exactly attracts you? The beauty of the parish house or the model of the priest’s car? Could it be the aroma that often proceeds from the parish house kitchen? Do you see priests and religious as persons who have so much money that they do not know what to do with money simply because they are always helping people? If this is the case, you are clearly mistaken. The words of Jesus are very true. The Son of Man really has nowhere to lay his head. The poverty of the priesthood and religious life is such that you are constantly a beggar; you depend on the charity of others to survive yet nobody knows this!
The second lesson we learn about ministry is that it demands one’s complete devotion and total commitment. This is what Jesus meant by the statement: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60. Jesus said this to the man he called who gave the excuse of going to bury his father first. Bear in mind that this man’s father was still alive. He wasn’t asking for permission to attend a burial ceremony, instead, what he meant was that he needed to go and settle everything about his family before coming to do God’s work.
Some time ago, a minister died and during his burial, his church members had so many lovely things to say about him but his family members could not accept or believe what they were saying. The minister’s children who were of questionable character said the church members were telling lies but their mother objected saying they were telling the truth. She then added: “He was a good pastor but a bad father, he groomed and grew the church but left his family groaning, a fire was in his bone but affection and intimacy were never in his mind for his family, he won the church but lost his family.”
This is the reason the church recommends celibacy; a life that allows the minister to be completely committed to the work of God rather than to a few only. In this way, he can actually leave the dead to bury their own dead while he frees himself completely for ministry. Unfortunately, many mistakenly conceive of celibacy as freedom from commitment rather than freedom to be committed to ministry. Celibacy is not only saying no to marriage (and having a family), it is also saying no to any form of sexual activity whatsoever. The third lesson we learn about ministry comes from the last statement of Jesus to the man who wanted to first go home to bid farewell to his family. Jesus said: “no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. This is to say ministry is not about what you want but what God wants. Once you say “yes” to God, you lose the right to say “no” later. God not only needs people who are committed, He also needs people who can forego their personal will.
The third lesson we learn about ministry comes from the last statement of Jesus to the man who wanted to first go home to bid farewell to his family. Jesus said: “no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. This is to say ministry is not about what you want but what God wants. Once you say “yes” to God, you lose the right to say “no” later. God not only needs people who are committed, He also needs people who can forego their personal will.
By saying we can no longer afford to look back, Jesus was basically giving us a lesson in obedience. To obey goes beyond merely taking instructions, it is primarily about subjecting one’s will to that of another. It is being able to say: “I am no longer in charge of myself.” Without this willingness to do the will of God rather than your own will, the ministry can result in frustration.
Indeed, if we summarize the three statements of Jesus, we come to one conclusion: FOLLOWING JESUS COMES AT A COST. It is more of letting go than of acquiring things. If you cannot pay the price, then you don’t deserve the prize.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give the grace to live by my vows and commitments as I follow you daily. Amen. St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Job 9:1-16, Psalm 88:10-15 and Luke 9:57-62).