(13thOrdinary Sunday: 1 Kings 19:16-21; Galatians 5:1-18; Luke 9:51-62)
The Psalmist sings today, “I set the Lord ever before me.” This serves at least two purposes. First, as we read in the second half of the same verse, it inspires trust. But it is also a reminder of our own commitment to the Lord.
Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,” knowing full well what awaited him there. He expects the same steadfastness from those who seek to follow him; in particular they must leave behind everything and everyone else.
In 1846, the Revolutionary slogan, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” was well on its way to becoming the official motto of France. This attitude was directed, among others, to religion in general and, with particular ferocity, towards the Church.
In was in this context that a Beautiful Lady, in tears, came to call her people back to the integrity of their Christian heritage. She could have spoken about many ways in which her people had proven to be unfaithful. Instead, she chose what we might call typical examples, making the point that there is such a thing as an authentically Christian way of life, which places legitimate demands on us.
St. Paul champions freedom, but shows that it does not mean license to do anything we please. While he does not want the Galatians (who were “biting and devouring one another”) to “submit again to the yoke of slavery,” i.e. to the legalism associated with keeping the Law of Moses, he writes, “Live by the Spirit.”
But this, too, is a form of submission, not to something outside of us but within. Thus is fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33: “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God is faithful, and we are to be faithful in return.
Fidelity is, after all, the touchstone of any serious pledge, not only in marriage or religious life, for example, but fundamentally and more broadly as applied to our baptismal vows, our discipleship.
In her Litany, Mary is called Virgin most faithful. From Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt to Cana to Calvary to La Salette and Lourdes and so many other places, she is a perfect example of commitment and love.