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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

There is a sense of urgency about discipleship – almost like emergency services responding to a crisis, in the Gospel today there is no time to wait for any normal human moments, no reason to delay: the hand must be placed immediately on the plough, the work must begin NOW! It can feel as though Jesus is being a little abrupt in this passage – even a little too intense! But it is a question of priorities: for the Lord, the work of salvation, or proclaiming the Gospel, brooks no delay. Perhaps this intensity is a valuable reminder for us – we can tend to “tame” Jesus, and forget that he was passionately and totally dedicated to the Mission his heavenly Father had entrusted to him – even to the point that he left Nazareth to become a homeless preacher with nowhere to lay his head.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:16.19-21

This reading is a key moment in the story of the Old Testament prophet Elijah – the selection of the prophet who will come after him. Note that his name, Elisha, rhymes with Elijah (el-EYE-jah, el-EYE-sha). The reading is fairly straightforward, but make sure you take your time, and highlight the different moments of the story:

1 Elijah is sent by God;

2 He calls Elisha by throwing his cloak;

3 Elisha hesitates and Elijah replies by almost rejecting Elisha;

4 Elisha performs an action that show he is leaving his life behind.

Keep this structure clear in your mind and there should be no problems with this passage, and it will add important clarifications to the Gospel to follow.


Second Reading: Galatians 5:1.13-18

Remember it seems as though there is serous division among the Christian community in Galatia, and Paul’s letter is specifically addressed to resolving this. Here Paul is warning of the dangers of liberty slipping into self-indulgence – a message that is suitable to every place and time. There is a vividness and a vigour about the letter to the Galatians that makes it more immediate than other Pauline writings; use this vigour to help you in proclaiming his words. There should be a passion about this reading – do not simply “read the words”, but allow Saint Paul’s passionate concern for the unity of the Christian family to come out. It may be that these words need to be heard in families, parishes and local communities here and now too!