In today’s First Reading, Elijah’s disciple is allowed to kiss his parents goodbye before setting out to follow the prophet’s call.
But we are called to follow a greater than Elijah, today’s liturgy wants us to know. In baptism, we have put on the cloak of Christ, been called to the house of a new Father, been given a new family in the kingdom of God.
We have been called to leave behind our past lives and never look back — to follow wherever he leads.
Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind and his disciple was given a double portion of his spirit (see 2 Kings 2:9–15). Jesus too, the Gospel reminds us, was “taken up” (see Acts 1:2, 11, 22), and he gave us his Spirit to live by, to guide us in our journey in his kingdom.
As today’s Epistle tells us, the call of Jesus shatters the yoke of every servitude, sets us free from the rituals of the old Law, shows us the Law’s fulfillment in the following of Jesus, in serving one another through love. His call sets our hands to a new plow, a new task — to be his messengers, sent ahead to prepare all peoples to meet him and enter into his kingdom.
Elijah called down fire to consume those who wouldn’t accept God (see 2 Kings 1:1–16). But we have a different Spirit with us.
To live by his Spirit is to face opposition and rejection, as the apostles do in today’s Gospel. It is to feel like an exile, with no lasting city (see Hebrews 13:14), no place in this world to lay our head or call home.
But we hear the voice of the One we follow in today’s Psalm (see Acts 2:25–32; 13:35–37). He calls us to make his faith our own — to abide in confidence that he will not abandon us, that he will show us “the path to life,” leading us to the fullness of joy in his presence forever.
Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.
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