June 30, 2019 — Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings take us back to the basics, inviting us to reflect honestly on our deepest priorities in life.
In the second reading, from Galatians, St. Paul reminds us of the essence of the Christian life. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Just a few verses later Paul points out why this simple command is so challenging to live out. “The flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.” Isn’t that the truth!
Overcoming our tendency toward selfishness while striving to put Christ and others ahead of ourselves is a daily internal battle.
In today’s Gospel, from Luke, Christ refers to this struggle within as He encounters two “would-be” disciples on His way to Jerusalem. “‘Follow me,’” Jesus says to the first man. “But he replied, ‘Lord let me go first and bury my father.’ The other said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” These two want to follow Christ, but only on their own terms, and only after taking care of some other, more pressing matters (at least in their own minds).
To this, Christ says thanks, but no thanks! Following Him requires an unqualified “yes” not a “yes but…” We are called to put Christ and His kingdom ahead of our own plans if we truly wish to be His disciples and to find victory in the battle of selfishness.
Living stewardship as a way of life can go a long way in arming us for victory. Stewardship living provides us with a custom-made “training plan” — the commitment to a specific offering of our time, talent, and treasure to the Kingdom of God. It is a plan discerned through prayer, and by looking at the realities of our unique circumstances, strengths, and limitations. The daily discipline of committing to the plan strengthens us and helps us gradually move away from the “yes, but” attitude and towards an unqualified “yes!” to Christ and His will.
The beauty of this way of life is that, far from constricting freedom, living out stewardship day by day actually increases freedom. Why? It frees us from unhealthy attachments to our comforts, our professional ambitions, and our possessions so that we can attach — fully and without reservation — to Christ. It creates in us the habit of putting first things first, of keeping our priorities aligned with Christ’s priorities.
Do not be afraid to give the best of yourself and your gifts to Christ. He deserves nothing less. And this way of life, while challenging, will be characterized by a joy and peace that only comes from giving Him and unqualified “yes!”