1 Kings 19:16, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62
This year I began teaching a Hebrew Scripture course to our Freshmen at the Mount. It was a great opportunity to introduce the girls to some of the prophets, including Elijah and Elisha whom we encounter in today’s first reading.
For their final project, I asked the girls to choose one non-writing prophet (the two above, plus Moses or Samuel), one minor writing prophet, and one 20th century prophet and reflect on their role and accomplishments.
Many who wrote about Elijah and Elisha were very impressed with their ability to perform miracles. One student, in her project, raised the question of Martin Luther King’s accomplishments. He is not credited with any miracles as such, but whose actions and preaching led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. She wondered if that could count as a miracle in itself.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the young man that he may NOT go back to say goodbye to his father, something which Elijah definitely allowed for Elisha. That raises some questions: “Why the difference?” is the first question I asked.
The commentaries I’ve read stress the fact that, in Luke’s gospel, Jesus has just set himself toward Jerusalem and to his death. He has no time for “when it is convenient, I will follow you.” He needs followers right now.
I’d like to put a different spin on that, since I know that I am writing to a group, most of whom, no longer farther ahead than farther back.
When Jesus tells us that no one who puts his or her hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God, I don’t think Jesus is telling us that we cannot treasure our memories or cannot rejoice in our past experiences.
I think Jesus is telling us that what lies ahead of us is so much greater than what lies behind us. Very few of us have performed anything close to the miracles of Elijah or Elisha. Very few of us will have any one refer to us as a prophet. But we are all invited to plow the field that life presents to us today: to live each day trusting in the life that lies ahead of us.
-Sister Elizabeth Buchala
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221