Sacrifice your Oxen for the Sake of Christ!
Readings: 1st: I Kg 19, 16-21; Ps: 15, 1-2. 5. 7-11; 2nd: Gal 5, 1.13-18 Gos: Lk 9, 51-62
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Today is the thirteenth Sunday of ordinary time. This Sunday, the church calls us to be fully committed to Christ. Without “Looking back,” we must freely “slaughter” all the forces, distractions, and obstacles that prevent us from serving the Lord.
In the first reading, the call of Elisha and his response was a dramatic event. Elisha demonstrated a total commitment to his call. The slaughtering of his oxen, the kissing of his father, and the bidding of farewell to his men were symbolic gestures that he had freely accepted his call. It was a sign of total submission to the will of God over his own will. It was also an indication that he loved God more than his business and his own life.
The slaughtering of his oxen is very significant for us today. He “killed and abandoned everything” that could have become an obstacle to his decision to serve God in the future. Also, he overcame the temptation to keep them. This was the proof of his total commitment to God. What have we sacrificed, and what is our evidence of it?
In the second reading, Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ. This freedom is for a purpose. It liberates us from the things that enslave us in order to be committed to Christ. It is not freedom to indulge in vain acts. It is not freedom to become inactive. Instead, it is the freedom to follow and serve the Lord. This freedom binds us to Christ. It is a freedom that permits us to surrender all to Jesus Christ, our savior.
The gospel brings us to the apogee of this total commitment to the Lord. Christ knew and saw the weakness of the young men who wished to follow him. He knew their struggles, as well as their distractions. Like some of us, they had “genuine intentions and excuses”. They wanted to follow Christ, yet they were not ready to make the necessary sacrifice.
So, seeing their predicament, Christ addressed them: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” “Looking back” in this context has grave consequences for our Christian life and journey. It turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26) and Judas Iscariot into a traitor. It represents all unnecessary attachments. It does not permit us to make God’s call through his Son Jesus Christ, a permanent experience in our lives.
One of the most significant obstacles we have today as Christians are that “our oxen” are still alive. Although professed Christians, our oxen are still hidden somewhere in the fabrics of our life. They represent old habits and mundane things to which we are firmly attached. We must “slaughter” them as a sign of our total commitment to Jesus Christ or, our attention will remain divided because: “You cannot serve God and Marmon at the same time” (Lk 16:13).
So, this Sunday, the church calls us to be fully committed to Christ. Like Elisha, we must “slaughter all the forces, obstacles, and vices such as selfishness, materialism, immorality, and old bad habits. These make it hard for us to be committed to Christ. If we succeed in sacrificing them, we can confidently say: “O Lord, you are my portion and cup.” Then, the Lord will show us the part of life.
Peace be with you all!