The lesson from 1 Kings tells of God’s call of Elisha. Elijah hears God’s call and goes and finds Elisha in the field plowing the land and places his mantle over him. Elisha runs after Elijah and says to him, I will follow you but let me first go back to say goodbye. He comes back and slaughters all 12 oxen, cooks them and give the food to everyone to eat. He leaves everything he has to embrace the call of God. In the gospel lesson, as Jesus was traveling on the road to Jerusalem, he is approached by people wishing to follow him. One is willing but wants to first go bury his father and another wishes to go home and say goodbye but Jesus rebukes them and says “no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”. This does not sound like the God that we know, the one that says all are welcome.
But do these passage say that all are not welcome? No. All are welcome to follow Jesus, but Jesus is asking them to make a sacrifice and commitment to him. To put what is in the past, in the past and to follow the call of God. This story is about us. It is about the things that keep us from following God. God’s love for us is unconditional but we often place conditions on our relationship with God. He wants to spend time with us, but we don’t always make time for Him. In the gospel reading it states that Jesus’s face was “set toward Jerusalem”. He had a clear mission and he would not be swayed. Not by the Samaritans who would not receive him. Not by the people who wanted to hold on to the past. He had to fulfill God’s plan which was his own death, resurrection and ascension.
In the second lesson from the 5th chapter of Galatians, we are told that the whole law can be summed up in one commandment. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We are being called into a mission with God; to fulfill his plan that all people are loved. To do this we should use all the fruits of the Spirit to be good stewards of all that God has given us. That does not mean using the least resources as possible so we can save the rest for ourselves, it means to use the right amount of resources, so that all people can know of the boundless love of God. No one can encounter the love of Jesus Christ without being changed forever. When we emulate him, we become personally involved with those around us. When we value others, then they value themselves.
We have all heard the phrase, WWJD, “what would Jesus do?”. We have the scriptures as a guide. We know what Jesus would do, the better question is WDWD, “what do we do?”. What do we do in response to this relationship we have with God? Do we pick up our crosses and follow him, leaving behind the things of the past? Do we move forward with what God is calling us to do, to love our neighbors as ourselves? Let us set our face to Jerusalem, to this symbol of a bright future, where God gave his only Son so that can be free to love as God first loves us.