THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The readings from this reflection: 1Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
Materialism in one’s self is quick to notice if we take even one-half of a second to examine ourselves. We may notice an overabundance of or a disordered attachment to “stuff ” that we do not need or use, or items that may be broken or expired, yet, for some reason, we find ourselves attached to all of it. Perhaps these items have some sentimental meaning, or perhaps we have an anxiety of being without them. Whatever the reason, we often struggle with some sort of attachment to the things of the world.
Throughout the Gospel of Luke, those who exhibit an attachment to things are constantly redirected, if not reprimanded. (Luke 3:11, Lk 5:11, Lk 6:30, Lk12:33, Lk 14:25-33, Lk 18:22-30) We have another instance of this in our Gospel today (Lk 9:51-62), which may seem harsh; “Let the dead bury the dead…” This is the radical conversion to which each of us are called.
Sinful habits enslave us and lead us away from God. It should be easy to notice when our wealth, our shoe collection, or our love for sports or classic cars takes the place of God in our lives. It is much more subtle when a given relationship begins to become our idol. Even if that relationship is healthy and helps us grow in holiness, we can become overly attached to it. This can happen even with very good things. We can become overly attached to particular mindsets, or specific ways of operating and behaving, even particular methods of prayer.
Does this mean we are called to give up everything we have or think about and live in complete isolation? Of course not! One of the desert Fathers, Abba Zosimos said, “It is not possessing something that is harmful, but being attached to it.” One who has very little material wealth or possessions can be overly attached to what little they do have. Yet, one who has much can live with a spirit of total detachment.
The goal is to recognize everything; material goods, wealth, ideas, relationships, even our very life, as gifts given to us from almighty God, and we should live with a “light grasp” on them. We should give thanks for the opportunity to have them, but we must always be ready to let go of them whenever he asks. The things of this world are mostly good things, but when they get in the way of fully giving ourselves to the Lord, they can enslave us. We the sons and daughters of God are called to live in freedom, not slavery.
We pray that we might have the spirit of detachment exemplified by Elisha today who turned away from everything to serve the Lord, because the love of him is the only thing we take with us into eternity. Truly he is our inheritance.
Fr. Kirchner is Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield; Chaplain at Springfield Catholic High School; and Chaplain of CoxHealth, Springfield.