Homily for June 26

Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

"Technical difficulties" with my recorder today - I can't find it!
So no audio for this homily.

There’s a lot in the news these days
about how individuals “self-identify” and what descriptors they use
to know and understand themselves.
This homily isn’t going to address any legislation on these matters
but rather will help us look at how we self-identify as believers,
- because that’s what these scriptures are about today.

Before a man or woman is married they are known, they identify
as  son, daughter, sister, brother, nephew, niece,
cousin, aunt, uncle, friend.
Once they’re married, they add a new relationship, a new identity,
to all the other descriptors that apply to them:
they are now known, they now identify as husband, as wife.
And their relationship as married persons
becomes their primary human relationship.
Of course, they are still
son, daughter, sister, brother, nephew, niece,
cousin, aunt, uncle, friend to others
but their spousal relationship influences, colors, modifies and changes
their other relationships and identities.

Something like this is at the heart of today’s scriptures.
It’s a change in relationship that causes Elisha to ask
if he might go back and bid his parents farewell.
Up to  this point has identified himself and has been known as
- his parents’ son.
But now he’s to be known as Elijah’s apprentice
and the Lord’s prophet: two new identities.
He’s taking on a new relationship status
and it’s beginning to make a qualitative difference
in all his other relationships.
The same is true in the gospel.
Three individuals here present themselves as potential disciples:
they stand on the threshold of changing their relationship status
by following Jesus.

• With one, the Lord is more demanding than Elijah
 (who gave leave to Elisha to go home to kiss his parents goodbye).
Jesus answers the same request, saying
 “once you put your hand to the plow, once you begin to follow me,
you must leave what’s behind you - behind you.”
Relationship modifies identity and perspective.

• And to another who ‘s interested in following the Lord
- but wants to wait  until after his father has died -
Jesus warns that the time is at hand and nothing should keep us
from walking in his footsteps right now.
To identify as a disciple 
is to answer the gospel’s demands in the moment.

• And to yet another, one who’s full of bravado
 (“Lord, I’ll follow you wherever you go!”)
Jesus cautions that following him change your lifestyle
because you’ll be following one who hasn’t so much
as a place to lay his head at night.
A relationship with Christ identifies you as one called to live
as he lived and that will likely impact, modify
and change one’s identity.

Of course Jesus wasn’t and isn’t anti-family or in any way opposed
to all those wonderful relationships in our lives
through which we come to know and love God.
But he is speaking a hard saying and it is this:
Among all the relationships we enjoy in our lives,
none is more important than our relationship with the Lord.

Among the many identities
by which we understand and know ourselves,
none is more important than our identity as children of God.

So, let’s put a practical edge on all of that
and ask ourselves a few questions.
In the week just past,
in what ways, in what relationships, situations and circumstances
did I know, understand  and identify myself
as a follower of Jesus?

And, were there times in the past week when in some ways,
in some relationships, in some circumstances,
I subtly, quietly denied my identity as a follow of Christ?

And one more question…
In the week ahead of me, in what ways
and in what relationships, situations and circumstances,
will I have the opportunity to know, understand and identify myself
]as a disciple of the Jesus?

The Incarnation, the mystery of God becoming one like us in Jesus,
]is the ultimate expression of the Divine identifying as human,
taking on our flesh and blood
]and offering the same on the Cross, for us,
]shared now at this altar in the Bread and Cup of Communion.

Jesus, who has so totally identified himself with our humanity
]invites us to take into ourselves, into our bodies, his identity,
]his holy presence in Communion.

May what we celebrate and receive here help us know ourselves,
]understand ourselves and identify ourselves
as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus,
our Lord and Redeemer.


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