I Need to Do It God’s Way, Not ”My Way” (13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2022-06-26)


Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Year C: 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21; Ps 23; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62

St. Eugenia Catholic Church, Stockholm (English Mass)

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today’s gospel reading began by Jesus rejecting every form of violence and coercion as a method of mission for the truth, and thereby confirms that an essential part of the truth, which he reveals and literally embodies, is the right for every human being to freely embrace it.

As the Lord himself says in the Book of Revelation: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you and you with me.” He does not say: “I am standing at the door with a bazooka and will enter whatever you like it or not.” But: “if you hear my voice and open the door”.

This does not mean that the truth ceases to be the truth just because some, many or most of the people would reject it. It also does not mean that people would have a kind of a “right” never to be exposed to the truth in different areas or aspects. But the uniquely Christian concept of truth with our freedom to affirm it, as part of the truth, as it were, is a precondition for our democratic and pluralist societies, and explains why Western democracy and rule of law, based upon the idea of human rights, have emerged and thrived in the Cultural sphere dominated by Christian faith and philosophy. And not in regions permeated by different ways to understand God and humanity.

Considering the historical antagonism between the Jewish people and the Samaritans, Jesus’s marking also tells us that God’s Incarnation in him, i.e. in and from the Jewish people, signifies how the role of Israel’s people in salvation history is fulfilled. God will now finally realize his promise that he through Israel would gather the whole world and all nations in a new and eternal covenant, in him, Jesus Christ.

Our gospel passage then continued with three statements presupposing that one understands and accepts Jesus’s self-claim to be God, i.e. the one whom the apostles, the evangelists and the Church profess as God. Without this precondition, the statements become incomprehensible and weird.

Jesus uses the rhetorical form of the hyperbole, i.e. exaggeration, to make the point of his true identity. Of course, he is neither against burials of dead, nor saying farewell to one’s family before embarking on a long trip as actions in themselves. What he wants to say is that all such things we do, also in the context of what is closest and most important to us, we should do with him, for him and his way.

And this is not surprising. If he is who he claims to be, whom the Church acknowledges and professes, viz. the founder and sustainer of the universe, and thus of me and you; the one who entered into, and allowed himself to become limited of the restrictions of, matter in order to lead us to the unrestricted, divine and eternal – then everything we think and do, prioritize and choose in our lives, large and small, has to be adjusted to how it helps us to follow, i.e. fully live with and for, him. Everything. Nothing can be more important!

For this, we need to learn to love what he loves, to want what he wants and to reject what he rejects, as Jesus rejects everything that is sin. And in order to help us doing precisely this, he has founded and given us the Catholic Church as our mother and teacher. A basic attribute of the faith of a Catholic is that he or she, urged to do so by the Lord himself, allows the trust in Christ to be transformed into a trust in his Church. Of course not in the sense of all us sinners here, but in Christ’s eternal and insoluble presence in her unchanged teachings from the apostles, upheld by the Teaching office he instituted and inspires to preserve the truth through his and the Father’s Spirit; and in her seven sacraments.

The difference between Jesus and all the prophets of Israel before him having presented messages from God on his revelation, although fragmented and not complete, is marked in our first reading from the First Book of Kings, where the prophet Elijah answers the exact same question from the called follower who first wants to say goodbye to his people at home – but in a different way than does Jesus. Elijah was a prophet with a task. Jesus Christ is neither a prophet nor a teacher and he has no task. He is the task, as he is God who saves, i.e. grants eternal communion with himself to those who believe.

Therefore, precisely as determined as you are if you e.g. want to become a professional football player or an artist of some kind, where everything else must be subordinated to the aim, as determined you ought to be regarding your life with Christ according to his value scale. To become a saint is to become a “pro” in the Christian, spiritual life, which is exactly what St. Paul talked about in our second reading from his Letter to the Galatians, as the one and only aim for our life as baptized.

To a “Christian pro”, as it were, everything in life is ordered with Christ and the teaching of his Church as sole yardstick: family life, work life, free time, political commitments, friendships, sexuality and so on – everything has to serve divine purposes; has to express divine will and allow him to “restore my soul”, to speak with today’s responsorial psalm. A theme in sharp contrast to the leitmotif of hell: “I did it my way”.

Sanctification to most of us and in most of our cases, will not happen immediately. And that is why we have life in time – so that we have time to stepwise grow into holiness, the life “in the Spirit “ as St. Paul often expresses it. Helped by, not least a frequent use of the Sacrament of confession, where we receive forgiveness and a second, or third, or fourth, or fifth… or three hundred and fifty-sixth chance; and by the Sacrament of the Eucharist where we are fed with spiritual nourishment for every new, little step and direction on our way.

Perhaps this is a good thing to think about a little more thoroughly, and even to pray over, in the coming weeks of, hopefully, some summer leisure, or at least summer mood: What areas in my life need to be more ordered to Christ’s glory and purposes; i.e. need to be changed by me more faithfully, in action and not only in talk, putting Jesus Christ first in everything, as my principal source and aim?


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