Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I’ve been on the road a lot lately. The first reading begins with Elijah on the road. The disciples experience a similar call themselves to be “on the road”. And what we have is a description of a wonderful complimentarity between those who are called to be on the road in order to minister God’s Kingdom, and those who are called to meet their needs that they may do that. Elisha keeps passing back and forth in front of this woman’s house as he goes on his various trips, and the woman is prompted by the Spirit to provide for him: a roof, a little room on the roof, the furniture that he needs, to take care of him. And Elisha is touched by her generosity and asks, “What can we do for her?”
His servant tells him that she has no son and as that narrative continues what we will see is that she fairly miraculously then conceives, gives birth to a son. But then the son dies, and she goes to Elijah and he comes and he raises the son from the dead.
The disciples, when they go out,
they are told, “Do not bring anything extra with you. Do not bring extra money. Do not bring an extra change of clothes.”
Etcetera. But He promises them that
wherever they go, they will be taken care of. But the instrument through which
they are taken care of is the generosity of the people of God. Like Elijah himself, Elisha’s great
predecessor, during the beginning of the drought in
The disciples were sent out fully dependent on Jesus and His provision for them because He wanted to demonstrate to them with absolute clarity the wondrous gift of His Providence. He does not call them out the limb and then saw it off behind them. He provides for them. The One who holds the universe in the palm of His hand is perfectly capable of providing. And the promise to those who provide is what we heard in the conclusion of the Gospel. To do so much as to give a cup of cold water to a disciple because they are disciples, that person will not lose their reward. It is a great gift to be able to provide for those who are building the Kingdom. By doing so we build the Kingdom ourselves.
Sometimes Jesus does this in ways
that are unexpected. There is a
wonderful story that is told in the prayer community in
God’s provision. Unexpected ways.
Memorial Day weekend I was going
up north to visit some friends in
And he said, “Well, how do you know that?”
“Well, I just happen to be your local traveling Roman Catholic priest and it’s my business to know that.”
“Oh!” he said, perking up.
“Look, you want to get back, all you gotta do is simply say ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I haven’t been to Mass for 30 years’ and whatever else may have occurred in the meantime.”
He wanted to think about it for a while. But I’m writing him this week to remind him if he hasn’t done anything yet, now’s a really good time.
But the interesting thing was in
The interesting thing, of course, is when I got back to town and I brought my bike to the Harley dealer they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Because if Jesus just stopped it, they’ll never find anything wrong with it. But they’re still working on it.
It was a wonderful opportunity. I’ve had opportunities like that before that I have just missed. But the more we believe that our lives are absolutely in Jesus’ hands, that His providence really guides what happens to us, the more we can start looking for when unusual things happen, what is He doing? Is He doing something because He wants to work on my heart? Or even more importantly, is He doing something because this set of unanticipated circumstances is going to put me in immediate proximity with somebody who needs to hear something that I can share with them? Something about the Gospel. Because it’s possible to blow that.
When I was in Minneapolis and my car broke down – different car – and I brought it in and they were able to fix it and all this kind of stuff, but I was in one of these kind of like “Well, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you don’t have more of them.” One of these whiney moods. You know, the “Jesus doesn’t love me because my car broke down” kind of ultimate human arrogance, stupidity kind of perspective.
I was praying later and I said to Jesus, “Why did that happen?” But it was more “Why did that happen!” And Jesus just simply said, “Well, there was a mechanic there that really needed to hear the Good News.” And He had sent me there for that. And I had completely blown it because I was looking at my own stupid circumstances rather than trying to be sensitive to what was Jesus of Nazareth doing at that point in time.
The guidance of God the Holy Spirit is never coercive. It is always a gentle invitation to respond. And lives depend on our response. Let us plead with Jesus that we would love Him so much that when things happen that we don’t expect or we don’t understand, our first move is to ask Jesus to give us hearts compliant to whatever He is doing in the situation because He always wills what is best for us.
The great saints had such a total surrender to His providential care. They witness to us about this gift. Sometimes it comes in packages that are hard to carry, but if we let the circumstances take our eyes off of Jesus, then we will miss the wonder of what He does. Let us plead with Him today that we would simply choose to trust Him more and more and more. That we would always look for what is His will in every situation we face. That we could live in a way that is pleasing to Him and truly build His Kingdom.