THIRTEENTH SUNDAY: Luke 9: 51-62

Today, all the readings speak about the call of our vocation: vocation for the service and love of God and neighbor and the vocation to proclaim the good news. In all the three readings, there are different vocational stories with different qualities important for us, such as our readiness, our own free will guided by the spirit, and our total dedication — free from all attachment. The first reading describes how Elisha committed himself whole-heartedly to answer God’s call to be a prophet, in spite of his initial hesitation when God called him through the prophet Elijah.

The gospel reminds us that our focus needs to be on the Lord Jesus, who invites us to follow Him without any conditions. We are free to make this choice and once we do, we will be dedicated to loving and serving others. Jesus told them: “Come and follow me.” They accepted this invitation willingly but they had their own excuses. Jesus knew that their excuses were very human and genuine. Still, Jesus challenged them to examine themselves to follow Him totally and immediately without any reservation. By giving up everything we have, we surrender our lives to “God in the service of others.”

The life of St. Mother Theresa might help us to understand how to respond totally to God’s call. Mother Theresa did a great deal for Jesus through her service to the poor and suffering people. A media person once asked Mother Theresa, if she did not think that what she did was a mere drop in the bucket. Her response was “No, it was a mere drop in the ocean, but if I do not do it, it might not be done at all.” If I did not drop in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of the missing drop.” Again the media person said: “But there is so much to do; how can we even begin?” Mother Theresa said: “We can’t do everything, so don’t worry about that. All we can do is what is right in front of us right now and that we must do.”

Today, Jesus challenges each of us by saying that the plowman must look ahead rather than behind. By saying this, Jesus is telling us, as disciples, that we must not look back but keep our focus on the goals fixed for our lives, which are full happiness and union with God. If a plowman looks back, this can cause the yoke to break and the bulls can go in different directions. If we are not focusing on the plow and looking ahead, the bulls will control, lead, and direct our lives. There are different kinds of bulls that we are facing in our lives: the bulls of our own addictions, selfishness, greed, pride, and power. These will control our lives if we are not controlling them and we should control them by the grace of God and by focusing on God.

Jesus is asking the same thing of each of us: to look ahead, rather than behind. Jesus is really asking us for self-sacrifice and commitment in whatever we are called to do. Surely, we all have our ups and downs, our shares of doubts and mistakes along the way, and there will always be the temptation of walking away from Christ. When our lives get busy or we are overloaded and stressed out, the Lord can get taken from first place on our priority list. But the Word of God lights our way, and our prayers lift our minds and hearts to God. Let us give-up “looking back to what we left behind” and let us have communion with God and fix our eyes on God each day to strengthen us to follow Christ!