Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 30, 2019

It was about 15 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday: what it felt like to jump out of an airplane at 12,000 feet.  Some would call it stupid, others would call it daring, and I admit, it was clearly both of those.  What it gave me, though, even beyond being an unforgettable experience and an adrenaline rush second to none, beyond the “glad-I-did-it-and-don’t-have-to-do-it-again” badge, was this:  It gave me an image of Commitment (with a “capital C.”)  You don’t get to jump and then say….ummmmm….maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.  Once you jump, you can’t crawl back into the plane.  Mother Earth will greet you, one way or another.

We make countless commitments in life -- short-term and long-term, financial, relational, legal and ethical, sometimes commitments only to ourselves.  Some are more binding than others; some have greater consequences than others.  We make commitments that we wish we would not have made and commitments we wish we had made sooner.  Some bring great joy and immediate satisfaction, others not so much. 

The thing about our commitments in life, though, is that they all originate in our human desire; we choose to enter into them.  Jobs, relationships, vocations, community, work, neighborhoods, mortgages: we enter into our commitments because we choose to. 

But when it comes to the commitment to follow Christ, well, it’s not our choice to make.  A commitment to follow Christ, by its very nature, does not originate in us, it originates in Christ.  We can’t initiate it; it has already been initiated.  By our very nature, being created in the image and likeness of God, we have already entered into the relationship; we don’t get to choose that.  The love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit; there is no other way of being.  We share the same human body as the Son of God; that threshold has been crossed.  Our commitment to Jesus was set when he died on that cross.  What is ours to contemplate is how we respond to it and attempt to live it.  

Elisha did not have a choice when Elijah set the cloak over his shoulders; he knew life would never be the same. It would be up to Elisha of how he would respond.  Paul declares that “for freedom Christ sets us free.”  Freedom had been given the Galatians as it has been given us; what mattered to Paul was how they chose to live in that freedom. Jesus was committed, resolute in his journey to Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaited him.  The disciples had already been called; the one question remained: Would they follow? 

We don’t have to break our plows or sacrifice our oxen, and we all have a place to lay our heads at night, and we take great care I burying our beloved.  But have no delusions:  every decision we make, every dollar we spend, every web site we visit, every contract we sign, every purchase we make, every vote we cast, every trip we take; every word of grace or condemnation that comes off our lips, every direction of heart to love or hate, every person we welcome or reject at the threshold, every relationship we choose to create or attempt to mend or decide to end…it says something about our upholding our end of the commitment. 

We’re at 12,000 feet; we’re already out of the plane, folks.  And there is one mightier than Mother Earth waiting to greet us.  

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