Faithfulness in work and duty…the seedbed of opportunities for greatness
It’s not always easy to be a young person making their way in the world. And I believe it is getting more challenging as the years go by.
One of the reasons it’s becoming more difficult is the loss of moral certainties. Even though, as a young man in the past, we were frustrated by the moral codes, at least they gave us a boundary within which to operate.
Some would say the boundaries hampered our development; but I like to think the boundaries protected us from our own stupidity and ignorance until we were old enough to know better. I’m not sure I’m “old enough” yet, but we do our best to look mature.
Today’s readings could be taken as a road map for how to proceed in life: in the first place, “Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem”. We also must make a decision about life and head towards it: married or single, religious or atheist. This becomes the framework within which we live out our lives.
Secondly, [Jesus] “sent messengers ahead of him.” Two things strike me here:
a) every time we step outside our house, every time we do some work, we are advertising our character and our [some] abilities: we are sending out messages (rather than messengers), that will inspire others, and/or encourage others to employ us, engage with us, … or reject us!
b) make applications for positions of work, study, membership, etc.
Thirdly, “but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem.” The reality in life, and it’s easier if we are prepared to expect it, is that people will often reject what we say or do; they may disagree gently or walk away. Be like Jesus, and move on. Reflect on what they say, because they may have a point, but move on in order to be true to what you think God is calling you to do. Don’t get angry: you also reject some people!!
When the girl/boy of your dreams drops you, it’s OK to be sad for a time… your heart has been torn. But give thanks she/he left early so God can connect you with a more suitable person.
Fourthly, “As they travelled along … I will follow you wherever you go.” When we are young, especially, we must be ready to move away from home in order to truly appreciate home. Don’t put down roots too fast, or get comfortable too quickly, be prepared to wander and try many types of work/play, while living simply, so that:
a) living simply today means appreciating the better things coming tomorrow;
b) God has a chance to show you where you fit best, and
c) you have a chance to understand many “types” of people.
Fifthly, “Let me go and bury my father first.” We all have responsibilities for family, work, community, etc. But, sometimes, we use our community, work or family as an excuse to avoid the road away from home, or excuse ourselves from more important responsibilities. Let’s learn to do the hard things which build up our self-esteem, and win the respect of significant others: become a role model for others.
Sixthly, “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Once we are committed, there will be tough times ahead. If we give up every time it gets difficult, we will never know the joy of our sweat, we will never have Resurrection moments, and spend our lives running away. The tough times develop character, and appreciation for the good times.
The First Reading is a wonderful reminder of how God will give us wonderful opportunities “suddenly” and usually while we are busy and faithful in our work. Don’t give up: God knows the opportune time to call each of us for a special task/mission.
Perhaps we miss some of these calls from God because we are too full of our own ideas, and not faithful to the work we have already. Whatever work we have, be faithful and great things will happen.
The Second Reading reminds us of the core ingredients for living our daily lives inside the framework or structure of the life we have chosen: “Serve one another, rather, in works of love … Love your neighbour as yourself.” The reverse will lead to destroying our community where we find a peaceful life: “If you go snapping at each other … you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.”
May each of you receive a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, so we may persevere, appreciate, and become role models for others. When we inspire others, we succeed in making God visible and present in our world: we have purpose and meaning: we become fulfilled.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI