Fr. Romeo Ballan

Reflections

Why does Jesus resolutely take the road for Jerusalem? Luke places an important preamble (Gospel): the time of his Pasch of death and resurrection was approaching for Jesus, so He “resolutely took the decision to take the road for Jerusalem” (v. 51; see Jn 13:1). In Bible language, to indicate a firm decision, the words used are “set his face like flint” (cf. Is 50:7). Maybe today we would say "He gritted his teeth" and began his decisive journey. Within the framework of this great journey Luke fits ten intense chapters of teachings, miracles and parables of Jesus. The whole life of Jesus is seen as a journey: the journey from the Father to the world and from the world back to the Father; but also a journey along the roads of our world, walking alongside humanity and with the Church: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).

The life of a disciple is also seen as a journey, in the footsteps of Christ. To believe means to walk with Him, along the same road. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke called the whole movement that was started by Jesus “the way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 19:23; 24:22). Along this way, that is, in following Christ, disciples find obstacles, hindrances, falls, failures... just as it happened to Jesus. No sooner had he set out on his determined journey to Jerusalem than his way was blocked by some Samaritans. Jesus did not condemn them; indeed, he taught his disciples not to get their own back with fire (vv. 54-56). The only fire that Jesus has come to bring (Lk 12:49), and which the earth needs so much, is the Holy Spirit, the only one that  can transform the hearts of men.

Jesus is now on his way, and his advance cannot be halted. And as they travelled along (v. 57) - on the way which is that of Jesus and all his disciples - Luke includes, almost symbolically, three kinds of vocation, with the respective replies of Jesus, each of them proverbial and radical. In all three cases the verb 'to follow' occurs (vv 57,59,61) to indicate that the proper progress of the disciple is in walking in the Master's footsteps. In the first case, Jesus restrains the would-be follower telling him to consider the consequences of following Him (v. 57-58). In the second case, Jesus urges the traditionalist to go beyond his fixed habits (v. 59-60). In the third case, He exhorts a lazy man to make the priority urgency of the Kingdom his own: to proclaim the word and to serve (v. 61-62). In this vocational context, today's liturgy describes also the vocation of the new prophet Elisha, called to take the place of Elijah (1st. Reading).

We are shown the precise requirements of every Christian, called to follow in the footsteps of Christ. The same goes for all the vocations to a special consecration. (*)  But before talking about requirements we must consider the 'three gifts of liberty' that He bestows on those who decide to follow Him: for Jesus frees them from the slavery that comes from things (some may not be necessary), from attachments (the proclamation of the Kingdom is worth more than family ties) and from one's own past (the Kingdom is something new, and takes priority). Faithfulness to the call of Christ makes us free to love and serve others better (Collect). That is the overwhelming love for those who follow the Lord “along the path of life” (Responsorial Psalm). It is the joy of those who have experienced the true freedom of Christ (2nd Reading).

Here it is worth quoting a journalist friend: “Today, as happened two thousand years ago, Christ asks millions of persons to follow him, making a radical choice, without regrets. The Call! Not to military service, or to embark on a ship or to take up a job... but to decide on one's own life. Perhaps there is no moment more solemn and laden with consequences for each person, when the call is heard and the decision taken. That moment comes for everybody, with more or less awareness. Often, a person is alone. Or thinks he/she is. For millions and millions of men and women, that call comes from a specific historical person: Jesus of Nazareth. His voice, decoded in millions of ways, always contains the same imperative: "Follow me". Obviously, it does not apply only to monks, nuns, priests and contemplatives. Each of us has a call to follow Him, to be a disciple of Jesus: single, married, intellectual, business person, entertainer...” (Orazio Petrosillo). Freedom, fidelity and joy are the marks of one who is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere… to the final call of the Lord!

The Pope's Words

(*)  “The heart of the believer, filled with divine love, is moved to dedicate itself wholly to the cause of the Kingdom... According to the explicit command of the Lord, we must implore the gift of vocations, in the first place by praying untiringly and together to the “Lord of the harvest”. The invitation is in the plural: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38)... The Good Shepherd, therefore, invites us to pray to the heavenly Father, to pray all together and insistently, that He may send vocations... ”

Benedict XVI
Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, (2007)

In the steps of Missionaries

- 27/6: Peter's Pence Collection.
- 28/6: St. Irenaeus (135-202 ca.), born in Smirna (Asia Minor) and disciple of St. Polycarp, he became Bishop of Lyons, a great evangeliser of Gallia (France) and Father of the Church.
- 29/6: Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, missionaries and founders of the Church in Rome. They were martyred under the Emperor Nero, between 64 and 67 AD.
- 29/6: Bl. Raymond Lullo (Majorca, 1235-1316), a Franciscan Tertiary, scholar and writer. He was a missionary in Africa, where he began a fraternal dialogue with the Saracens. But later he was imprisoned and martyred.
- 30/6: Bl. Vasyl Velyckovskyj (1903-1973), a Greek-orthodox bishop and martyr from Ukraine who was severely persecuted in his country. He was expelled from the country and died in exile at Winnipeg (Canada) on account of a slow-acting poison given to him before his expulsion (1972).
- 1/7: St. Oliver Plunkett (1629-1681): born in Ireland, he studied in Rome and taught Theology in Propaganda Fide College. He was made Archbishop of Armagh, and was martyred in London.
- 1/7: Bl. Ignazio Falzon, a Maltese cleric (Valletta, 1813-1865), dedicated to the Christian instruction and conversion of soldiers and sailors.
- 1/7: Bl. Antonio Rosmini (1797-1855), priest and founder, an extraordinary man for depth of thought and Christian life. On account of some of his writings, he was misunderstood and unjustly condemned by the Church towards which he always showed love and obedience. He was beatified in 2007.
- 3/7: St. Thomas, Apostle, who proclaimed the Risen Christ as Lord and God. According to tradition he evangelised in India.

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Compiled by Fr. Romeo Ballan - Comboni Missionaries (Verona)
Translated by Fr. J.M. Troy, mccj
Website:    www.euntes.net    “The Word for Mission”
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