Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

June 26, 2016: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Click to hear audio homily
In one Korean TV drama, a newlywed wife tearfully barged into her parent’s home with a suitcase of her belongings. When her parents asked why she was here, their daughter explained that she and her husband argued for the first time. Did he hit you, they asked. ‘No.’ Did he use vulgar language, they asked. ‘No.’ Her dad then proceeded to grab her suitcase and put it outside the house. “Go back! You can’t stay here. How are you going to spend the rest of your married life together if you can’t work out one single argument? ”  With that, she was shown the door. Was her dad unsympathetic and cold, or was he trying to teach her a lesson? The daughter made a commitment to marriage--fidelity and perseverance through good times and bad, sickness and health--in front of her family and numerous invited guests. It could be said that this young lady put her hand on the plow and looked back. She had lost sight of her commitment and was going to give up on her marriage because of one argument with her husband.

Mother Teresa used to say something similar to the young women who just joined her order. She was pleased to receive new novices as long as they met her strict requirements. They had to live without income, personal possessions, or relationships outside the order. All that they had was to be given to God and to the poor. She expected her nuns to serve the poor willingly and happily and always with a smile. "If you don't have the zeal to help the poor, to take good care of the lepers, then [you] should pack up and go home," Mother Teresa told a group of novices. "No need to stay."

Jesus makes it very clear in today’s Gospel that he welcomes and invites disciples, but once they commit to follow him, they are to resolutely follow him to Jerusalem and the cross.  Jesus does not hide the difficulties ahead for his disciples. To those who want to follow him, Jesus points out that the way he is going holds no glamour. Those who hesitate, Jesus rejects. The only disciples worthy of following Jesus are those who put their hand to God’s plow and do not look back. Just as Mother Teresa cautioned new novices about the cost of serving the poor, Jesus makes it clear that to make a commitment to follow him will involve sacrifice and suffering. To shy away from a commitment at the first sign of suffering is to miss out on the growth that God has planned for the disciple.

Our sugar cane farmers are familiar with plowing fields; these days, the straight lines are achieved with precision GPS guidance system on tractors. A real-life plow most of us may be familiar with is a push lawn mower. We know from experience that we can only cut a straight line in the grass if we keep our focus on what we are doing.  In our daily life, the glamours of the world may attempt to pull us away from our true calling, but St. Paul reminds us to focus on serving God and our neighbor. Our GPS system for making a straight line in life must be nourished daily by the Word of God, contemplative prayer, and communion with Jesus in the Eucharist, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. How would our life look if we did not have a relationship with God and not follow God’s will for our lives? Would it be a world of self-centeredness? Do you know of someone who could improve his relationship with God to redirect his life?

During this week, let us ponder what fields we are plowing now. Do we feel tempted to look back or leave it and go elsewhere? What adjustment do we need to make today in order to plow a straight line?

-Fr. Paul Yi