Sunday, June 26, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “You possess only what will not be lost in a shipwreck.” — Sufi Wisdom.

“Follow me” is spoken by Elijah and Jesus in the scriptures today.

In Elijah’s case, Elisha (son of Shaphat) asks only to kiss his parents goodbye first. Then he does something to declare his willingness to follow completely: He slaughters his oxen, burns his plow in order to boil their flesh and feeds the oxen to his people.

The message is unmistakable: “I’m not coming back!”

Jesus, for his part, gets three different responses: “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Even Jesus recognizes how ideal and sweet it was but pops the bubble with his response: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

Readiness to follow in word, but not in action, is not to follow at all.

The next two respondents promise to follow but lament that something must come first. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is, they were not ready. They had other things to do first; they did not catch it that “the kingdom of God is now.”

This is Gospel writing at its best. The example is blunt and straightforward. Jesus’ preaching about hearing about God, and responding with all of our heart, is a message of such urgency. To not respond immediately is as bad as not responding at all.

To say “wait” is to miss the point. It is to not see that the kingdom is the most important thing that there is. The kingdom is an inner recognition of God’s presence, his love, and his call to accept his love and to love in return. It is not just to love him, but to love everyone.

In fact, loving everyone is loving him, and when we truly begin to love him, it will become obvious it means to love all.
This love is not an emotional Valentine’s Day kind of love, but the sacrificial, and pouring out kind.

It is unconditional. There are no strings attached here. Once one gets it, they begin to see meaning in everything that Jesus preaches.

Forgiveness is the only thing that makes sense, and it brings true peace. Serving others is the way to find life and joy within. Compassion is the most human connection to offer someone in pain or grief. Giving is receiving, and being last is being first in a whole new kind of way.

Jesus says: “follow me.” This is not a nice, friendly and informal kind of invitation. This is a “give me your all” invitation.

Jesus’ promise is that his invitation is the discovery of God and goodness and new life. That is why it is so urgent, why it must be heard, and why he is so persistent: “Come; follow me!”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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