THEME: TRUE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST
READINGS: 1 Kings 19:16,19-21 / Galatians 5:1,13-18 / Luke 9:51-62
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The most recent population census of Ghana reveals that Christians are about 71% of its inhabitants. Therefore, such a high percentage of Christians should have translated into high moral standards in the country. Unfortunately, the contrary is true. Providentially, the readings of this Sunday offer us the opportunity to reflect on how we can live in accord with the teachings of Jesus Christ as His true disciples (followers). Limiting ourselves to the scope of today’s readings, let us consider only five of the many characteristics of the true disciples of Jesus.
1. SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM: Unfortunately, today in Ghana, many Christians seek material prosperity first with the hope that they will eventually enjoy the glory of God’s kingdom. This is a clear deviation from the teaching of Jesus that we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Sadly too, this is fostered by the socio-religious virus of prosperity preaching. In order that the true disciple may not lose focus on the heavenly kingdom, Jesus cautions us: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Therefore, beloved, our quest for eternal life in God’s kingdom must take absolute precedence over any prosperity, aspiration, ambition, desire, enterprise, etc.
2. URGENCY OF THE PROCLAMATION: If seeking God’s kingdom is that preeminent, then there is a great urgency in letting as many people as possible hear the good news. Hence, every true disciple must readily postpone or delegate whatever they consider important (e.g. burying a father) in order to proclaim the good news. Thus, Jesus enjoins us: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). Therefore, beloved, let us everywhere and every time proclaim the message of Jesus. This is especially more effective when by good deeds we become living gospels (cf. Matt. 5:16).
3. HUMILITY: Humility is the quality of having a modest view of one’s importance. Unfortunately, in Ghana today, humility seems to be a scarce quality, sometimes even among “ministers” of the gospel, as some of them compete in showcasing their wealth. Fortunately, Jesus teaches us humility in His reply to the man who desired to follow Him seemingly though he had some expectations. Jesus told him: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). That is, Jesus through whom the heavens and the universe were created had so humbled Himself that He owed not even a single room. Beloved, let our attitude be like that of Jesus (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).
4. SELFLESS SERVING: The humble know that they are not worthy of God’s kingdom nor of becoming messengers of His good news. They, therefore, selflessly serve others. They serve without counting the cost. This was very evident in the lives of the early Christian missionaries to the Gold Coast (now, Ghana): the more the earlier missionaries died due to the harsh local conditions (e.g., malaria), the more others followed. Unfortunately, this selfless spirit seems to be dying out in the Ghanaian society. For instance, a civic/public servant demands a favour (in cash or kind) before offering a service he/she is paid to do. Contrary to this, today’s second reading reminds us that true disciples of Jesus serve selflessly (cf. Gal. 5:13).
5. WALKING BY THE SPIRIT: According to the second reading, true disciples of Jesus do not gratify the desires of the flesh, rather they walk or live by the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16). In Gal. 5:19-21, we find what gratifying the flesh means: “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.” Unfortunately, these vices are common in Ghana despite the high percentage of Christians.
Beloved, we should strive to eschew the above vices, and rather aspire to walk or live by the Spirit so that we will always exhibit His fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Beloved, with the help of God’s grace, let us always strive to become ever-more true disciples by seeking first God’s kingdom, urgently proclaiming the good news, humility, selfless service, walking by the Spirit, etc. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis