Last week we read and reflected on the Lord’s initial teachings regarding the basics of discipleship. Now all three of this Sunday’s readings

1 KINGS 19: 16b. 19 – 21

GALATIANS 5: 1. 13 – 18

LUKE 9: 51 – 62

continue to provide us with a continuation in the lesson.

However, let us not overlook

THE PSALM [16] which reminds us that all disciples must provide Jesus Christ with LODGING IN THE HOUSE – not on the roof! ” … you secure my lot … I keep the Lord before me always … at my right hand … you will show me the path of life.” In the absence of this foundation, discipleship becomes almost impossibly difficult.

First of all, the record of Elisha’s call finds its roots in his basic choice by God, not Elijah

Each one of us must recognise that our call comes from the Lord – especially through our Baptisms and Confirmations. At baptism the priest or deacon calls us by name, presents us with the lighted candle and challenges us to “walk always as a child of the light.” In a real way, Elijah’s cloak has been thrown over us. We need, not only to understand this – BUT ACCEPT IT. Unlike the young Elisha we must not, at the start, start laying down conditions – “let me kiss my mother and father, and THEN I will follow you.” The priest or deacon has done nothing to us. The call and challenge does not come from him but from the Lord.

It is all or nothing. Elijah’s question “what have I done to you?” triggers something spectacular in the young Elisha who “returned … took the yoke of oxen, and slew them.” Here our Psalm says it all – “you are my Lord … my portion and cup; you yourself secure my lot.” The what have I done to you can profitably be equated with the question asked by Jesus in last week’s Gospel – who do you say I am?

Elisha’s eventual response must open to us the implications outlined by Paul in

TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [GALATIANS 5: 1. 13 – 18]“for freedom, Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore.” However, Paul warns against the abuse of this freedom “as an opportunity for the flesh.” Rather, this freedom should be directed in such a way that we will “through love be servants of one another.” Service is the basic challenge of all Christian discipleship, which should never be undertaken lightly, not on the spur of the moment, now without discernment. Remember that all discipleship must involve a CALL. You have to be called to discipleship (too many lose canons in the Church … to many self-appointed experts and enthusiasts!).

THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE9: 51 – 62]

elaborates on these facts.

Three particular examples are given in these verses. First of all there is there is the unsolicited volunteer who has not considered the realities involved: “foxes have holes … the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” {remember the ‘a la carte menu?!}. Secondly, there is a call. Jesus recognises the potential. The person involved is interested. However, there exists a pressing social obligation (important as it was!) which now becomes an excuse for delaying tactics …. “let me first …” Finally, there is another volunteer. This time around the willingness to follow is expressed with a condition …. “but let me first …” Discipleship must always be unconditional … there are no ‘buts’.

Our Gospel extract begins with two further important elements which should characterise our discipleship.

The first arises from words at the start of the reading where we are told that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” There we are challenged by the Lord’s determination of adhering to the basic plan. Our plan of involvement must always be realistic (even if it involves difficulty which at times can be painful and distressing), but the plan should be adhered to. It is never a good idea to be a ‘spiritual butterfly’ – jumping from one novelty to another, and seldom seeing one thing through to the end.

The second point is presented to us by the overreaction (not a response) by Jesus’ messengers who proposed a drastic – “bid fire from heaven and consume them” – solution which, in fact was no solution at all. Jesus “turned and rebuked them.” The true disciple seldom, if ever, rises to crisis proportions ….. and you ‘convert’ no one by hitting them over the head with a ten-pound sledge hammer.