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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, June 30, 2013

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

June 30, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21

Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11

2) Galatians 5:1, 13-18

Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

When I read the story of Elisha in this week's Old Testament Scripture, it reminded me of the title of a book that my friend Dan wrote about himself: "Burning the Furniture."

Elisha had been called from his fields by Elijah to succeed him as God's prophet. So Elisha burned his plowing equipment to boil the meat of his oxen, which he gave to his people to eat, thus destroying all vestiges of his previous life and livelihood in order to commit himself fully to his new role.

Dan would be the first person to tell you he never experienced such a lofty calling. In fact, with self-deprecating humor Dan wrote about a seriously checkered past in which he figuratively had to burn the furniture -- that is, he had to rid himself completely of some negative influences and circumstances -- so he could make a new start.

Unfortunately, as Dan tells it, he had to do this numerous times over the course of his life, walking away from bad relationships and extricating himself from the consequences of poor choices, to repeatedly start over, ever trying to get it right.

The story of Elisha emphasizes the importance of severing oneself from worldly attachments in order to fully commit to God's calling. In the Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus asks as much from those he calls to be his disciples.

Taken literally, Jesus' demands sound daunting, as though he asks his followers to abandon their families. But what he asks is not to leave behind life-giving experiences and relationships. He explains, "Let the dead bury their dead." He's saying get rid of the dead wood, the attachments that drag us down or hold us back from God. He's saying, "burn the furniture," -- rid ourselves of the negative influences that keep us stuck in pursuits that go nowhere or worse.

It's difficult to separate from our worldly attachments and often not easy to leave behind unhealthy situations we've gotten used to. But taking such radical action allows us the freedom to follow Jesus in his mission of bringing others into his life. That's what he calls us to do.


What are the worldly attachments or negative situations in your life that keep you from being fully committed to Christ's mission? How can you free yourself from these influences?


"You were called for freedom. ... But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love." -- Galatians 5:13


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