When Elisha decided to follow Elija he went back and killed the oxen and burned the plowing equipment that supported his previous occupation. He burned his bridges, so to speak, that he would not be distracted from his new calling.
We are all called to follow Christ without reservation. What is it that we need to burn? What keeps us from being focused on the vocation that Our Lord has called us to through our Baptism?
In Paul’s Letter to the Galatians he says: “For the flesh has desires against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. These are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.”
Jesus Christ came into the world to show us how to live in relationship with our Heavenly Father. He came not to do his own will, but the will of the One who sent him. Our vocation, our happiness is also realized in our faithfulness to God’s will as He has revealed it through the Church and the Scriptures. We cannot just do what we want; we must be faithful to His plan.
So what is His plan? We must love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength. There can be nothing more important in our life than our relationship with God, and this relationship depends upon our daily commitment to prayer and faithfulness to the Gospel. If we love God above everything else then we will be able to love our selves and our neighbors, which demands self-denial on our part and a generous use of the gifts God has given us. Because this life of self-denial and generosity does not come natural for us, Our Lord has given us the Church and the Sacraments as the source of grace we need to live a supernatural life – beyond our human tendencies. We can only be faithful to His plan with His help.
If we would have the humility to learn from Biblical history, human history and our personal history, it should be obvious that when we insist on doing things our own way with no regard for the will of God, we end up experiencing personal and social unhappiness, confusion and hopelessness.
Let’s take a look at the world we now live in. Atheism is growing faster than ever before and we have allowed that influence to remove prayer from our public schools and public assemblies and any reference to God or use of Christian symbols is often treated as a criminal act. The most dangerous place on this earth is the mother’s womb because that is where most life is intentionally and legally terminated and there is little mention of the suffering of those who have made the choice to abort a baby.
The entertainment industry, the media, our secular educational system and our government have made an all-out effort to push an agenda to re-define marriage, rejecting God’s own definition of marriage in Holy Scripture.
This country was founded on Christian principles which are now being threatened by our government. We are in the middle of a prayer crusade organized by our Bishops to reverse the dangerous direction in which our nation is headed. We must pray for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, for the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman as defined by God, and for religious freedom from government intervention that violates our rights to fulfill our God-given mission to serve Him and His people.
In the Gospel, Jesus is approached by those who want to follow him, but they have excuses why they cannot follow him “now”. There is no convenient time to follow Jesus; the time for all of us to follow him is “now.” He says: “No one who sets his hands to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” We cannot be Jesus’ followers and look back to living our life according to our own will, by just doing what we want. We must either choose God’s plan or the plan of the world. We cannot have both.
Sunday, June 29th, happened to be the feast of Saints Peter and Paul who both gave their lives to serve God and His Church. Countless men and women through the ages have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives not only for their own salvation, but for the continuation of the Church. What sacrifices are you willing to make to live in the light of God’s grace and to preserve the integrity of Christianity?
July 4th Independence Day. What we celebrate is more than fireworks and barbeque. We celebrate freedom, a freedom that was built on the expression, “In God We Trust!” If we want to participate in an effort to maintain that freedom in the Christian spirit with which it was established, then we must be willing to pray with great fervor, make personal sacrifices (not to just do what we want, but to do what is right) and we must decide to follow Christ now without any excuses. As Christians we must believe that our happiness can only reach its potential in a faithful relationship with Jesus Christ. Anything else is not freedom, but slavery.