YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE CLOAK OF ELIJAH
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – I Kg 19:16, 19-21
Second reading – Gal 5:1, 13-18
Gospel – Lk 9:51-62
The gospel of today almost got me confused and angry. One of the greatest difficulties I had was, to understand why Christ would start giving reasons to a man who pleaded to follow him wherever He went. Yet, the one to whom He said follow me began giving Him conditions too. I thought to say to Jesus: yes, it serves you right. A deeper reflection, however, made me understand that no one can follow Christ, nay, become His disciple unless he has received the mandate. It is a popular proverb that when an uninvited guest mistakenly throws away the oil in the container, he must pay for it. For us to become followers of Jesus, we must necessarily receive His mandate as did the second man in the gospel story. No wonder St Paul said: “…they will not hear of Him unless they get a preacher; and they will never get a preacher unless one is sent” – Rom. 10:14. A question I set out to ask and answer is: what is our mandate to follow Christ?
In the first reading of today, Elisha received His Divine mandate through the prophet Elijah by the simple act of Elijah throwing his cloak upon him (Elisha). Elisha did not waste time to turn towards the new direction of life. He quickly did away with the old life style and faced the new calling. Yes, Jesus averred in the gospel that once the hands have been laid on the plough no one who looks back is worthy. That was the disqualification of the man in the gospel.
Reflecting on the cloak of Elijah which was cast upon Elisha, I remembered I administered the sacrament of baptism to some infants in my parish recently.
Among the rituals that attracted my attention in the rites of infant baptism was the clothing with white garment. I still recall the beautiful words of the rite of clothing which I spoke to the children:
“…you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourselves in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven”
What is more, I saw the little rites I performed on these children as an act of giving them that same Divine mandate in the similar way of Elijah and Elisha. By the virtue of Baptism in Christ, all of us who are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit have got the Divine Mandate from Christ through the priest to follow Christ.
As such, we no longer deserve to look back. Hands have been laid on the plough and we have no other obligation than to walk in the ways of Christ. The great apostle, Paul tells us: “when anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old creation has gone and now the new one is here…” – 2 Cor. 5:17. It is forward ever and backward never.
To look back is dangerous. We cannot forget the story of Lot’s wife who looked back to admire her old ways. Already, you and I have had the cloak of Elijah cast upon us. Old ways are dead and gone. Let the dead bury their dead.