Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we recall the words from the Sacred Scriptures that we have just heard today, we are all reminded that the primary mission of the Church has been and will always be that of evangelisation and mission. That is what all the faithful had been called to, as our primary objective, in proclaiming the Lord to all the people of all the nations, to everyone whom we encounter in life. Each and every one of us are called to be faithful and committed followers and disciples of the Lord, in dedicating our time, efforts and lives for the greater glory of God.
In our first reading this Sunday, we heard from the Book of Kings of Israel and Judah, the story of the calling of Elisha, the one whom God had chosen to be the successor of the prophet Elijah, the prophet who had worked and laboured for many years in the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah had worked hard to call the people who had disobeyed the Lord, fell into the path of sin and darkness, all those who had abandoned and betrayed the Lord, those who have worshipped the pagan idols and gods and persecuted those who remained faithful and all the prophets sent into their midst to remind them.
Elijah spent most of his years working alone amidst those who were hostile against him, and Elisha was called to be the one to succeed him, as Elijah’s time in this world was coming to an end. Elisha followed Elijah, and left behind his house, his family, and entrusting himself to the Lord wholeheartedly. Elisha embraced the calling that God had made to him, and henceforth, he became the prophet of God, the successor of Elijah. He answered God’s call with faith and he did what the Lord had asked him to do. That way, Elisha showed us all how each and every one of us ought to respond to God’s call, that is with faith and obedience.
In our second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, St. Paul spoke of Christ our Lord Who has freed us from our bondage to sin, freeing us from the chains that have enslaved us from the beginning when we first fell into sin. Through Christ, His Son, God has brought upon us His salvation and the hope of eternal life, and delivered us from the precipice of death and destruction. The Lord has given us the sure means to eternal life and guaranteed us salvation, as long as we entrust ourselves to Him, and He also showed us the new path going forward, which we ought to follow in our journey towards Him.
And that was where St. Paul spoke about the way of the Spirit, which is distinct from the way of the flesh. St. Paul said that as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord, we must be truly faithful to Him and walk in the path that He has pointed out to us, versus the path that the world has shown us, which many of us are familiar with. As Christians, we are all called to embrace His calling to holiness, leaving behind the trap of sin, which had kept us down for so long. We are all challenged to rise up to our faith, and to live our lives virtuously according to the way of the Lord while resisting the pleasures of the flesh, the temptation of human pride and greed.
Then, lastly in our Gospel today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and followers, telling them to follow Him wholeheartedly. He sent them out in pairs to go to places that He Himself was to visit to prepare the way for Him. There were those who received the disciples well and there were those who refused to listen to them, and when the disciples asked that those who rejected the Lord ought to be punished and destroyed, reminiscing of what happened with the ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord rebuked the disciples for such suggestion, and moved on to the next village.
This tells us that the Lord is calling on each one of us to follow Him, to believe in His truth and to walk in His path, and He loves us even more than our trespasses and sins. Despite the stubbornness of those who refused to listen to the disciples at the time, the Lord did not want to punish them because ultimately, He knew that some of them may yet have the chance to be redeemed in the future, and He still left the path open for those people to walk, and to enter into His merciful care, should they choose to listen to Him and soften their hearts and unseal their minds from listening and paying attention to God.
And among those whom He had called, in that same Gospel passage the Lord seemed to be quite harsh when He told those who said that they had matters to settle and to handle before they were to follow Him, such as burying their parents first or saying goodbye first, and that those who turned their back on the kingdom of God has no place in it. First of all, we must not read into the Lord’s intention literally and without understanding the context, especially considering the additional intention of the writer of the Gospels, which in this case is St. Luke. In fact, the Lord’s intention in uttering such words is to convince us all that we cannot be divided in our attention or easily distracted in our path of following the Lord.
Otherwise, we will end up being easily pulled away from the right path, and we will end up dividing our attention and time, and then falling off that path that God had set before us, as what our ancestors and predecessors had experienced. The same people of Israel that the prophet Elijah and Elisha ministered to, did not have their heart fully focus and attuned towards the Lord, and as a result, they veered off the path and were easily tempted and swayed by worldly temptations, committing sins and vile things before God and man alike. The same thing can happen to us as well unless we actively strive to remain faithful in God and to do His will.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall and discern the messages that the Lord had presented to us in the Scriptures, we should remind ourselves that each and every one of us have been called by God to contribute our efforts and ourselves to the mission He has entrusted to us, that is in evangelisation to the whole world. Each one of us have been given different gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities so that hopefully each one of us can do what we can in our respective and often distinct situation and capacities, to glorify God by our lives and to bring His salvation to more and more people, all around us, and to whoever we encounter in life.
The message that the Lord wants us to receive and understand today is that each one of us can do our best wherever we are and in whatever we are doing. There are indeed some of us who are called like that of the prophet Elisha, to leave everything behind and to follow the Lord wholly and wholeheartedly. That was what our priests and religious had been called to, into their mission of serving the Lord and us, His people, the community of the faithful. But at the same time, we must not forget that the laity also have a massive impact on the works and efforts of the Church, and each one of us, especially the laity have the obligation and calling to fulfil, to be exemplary in faith in each and every one of our own way of life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore embrace wholeheartedly our respective calling in life, and for those of us who have not yet discovered what our calling in life is, let us all spend the time to discern well, and to pray for the Lord’s guidance, to be open-minded and welcoming to God’s calling, so that we may soon come to know what it is that we can do as God’s followers and disciples in our world and communities today. Let us all also pray for strength and perseverance so that we may be better able to resist the temptations to conform to the way of sinfulness and evil, and that we may be more committed to the path that God has shown us.
May the Lord continue to help us and guide us in our journey throughout life. May He empower each one of us to be His faithful disciples, filling up our hearts with His love and help us in our daily struggle against evil and sin. May God be with us always and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.