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Bible Reflections View Comments

Are We Waiting for a Better Offer?
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013
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Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about other people. Most of the time it’s out of a sense of genuine care and responsibility. Sometimes it can be a misplaced resentment of what other people seem to have that we don’t. We’re not worrying about them as much as we are worrying about ourselves. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to look at our own problems and the places where we need to move on.

Worrying is natural. Letting that concern take over our lives can be a problem. This is especially the case when we don’t want to do anything to alleviate the things we’re worried about. We simply want to stay stuck in the anxiety and the fretting. Taking action can be difficult and can make demands on us that we’d rather avoid. So we convince ourselves that the fussing itself is our occupation.

Today’s lectionary readings offer us a way to cut through some of this static that worry can cause. In today’s Gospel, several people express an interest in following Jesus, but in response to his invitation they offer a variety of reasons why they can’t respond “just yet.” How we interpret these responses may tell us something about which of our own concerns might be taking up too much psychic space in our lives.

In contrast to the would-be followers of Jesus, the first reading tells us the story of Elisha making the choice to follow the great prophet Elijah as his successor. He says farewell to his parents, he slaughters the oxen he’s been using to plow the field, he roasts them over a fire built from the yoke and plow. He feeds his village and is now free to follow the prophet.

In this one scene, we see the kind of decisive response that Jesus asks of his followers. If we truly want to be his disciples, then the gospel message needs to be the most important thing in our lives. It doesn’t mean we abandon our other responsibilities. But it does mean that we don’t let those responsibilities become excuses for not living Jesus’ message. We don’t set aside the demands for justice and truth in order to get ahead in the workplace. We don’t let friends and family members fill our lives with so many mundane demands for attention that we have no time for prayer or for Sunday Mass. We don’t look down on those who are poor and homeless so that we can continue to feel comfortable with our savings accounts and possessions. More than anything else, we need to become more attentive to when we’re making excuses for ourselves or others.

Neither Elijah nor Jesus was willing to listen to excuses from people who wanted to follow them half-heartedly or selfishly. They set the bar as high as it needed to be in order to ensure that those who followed knew what was expected of them.

We all know the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket. But sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. Many people want to hedge their bets. They’re reluctant to make a commitment. But any successful entrepreneur will tell you that if you’re not willing to commit everything you have to making a great idea a reality will say that those people will likely fail.

Again and again in our lives, we will feel a desire to follow Jesus more devotedly. We need to prepare now to respond to that call wholeheartedly.


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James: This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20). 
<p>James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani. </p><p>Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!” </p><p>The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life. </p><p>On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them...” (Luke 9:54-55). </p><p>James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a). </p><p>This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t need so much to talk about God but to allow people to feel how God lives within us, that’s our work.

 
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