13th Sunday in Ordinary Time | June 25/26, 2016
Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on all of this week’s readings.
One of the realities about being an Oblate is that you move a lot.
In fact, these last three years at Christ our King have been the longest I have stayed in one place in over a decade.
Which makes this process of moving this weekend even more daunting.
For I have discovered that the longer you stay in one place, the more you seem to accumulate.
As I have been packing, I find myself repeatedly asking this one question. Do I really need to carry this item up and down several flights of steps?
Do I really need to carry this collegiate English to Spanish dictionary when they invented this thing called Google Translate?
Do I really need to carry this Darth Vader costume that I was talked into wearing for Catholic School’s Week?
Do I really need to carry the four binders of lesson plans that I created for a class that I taught a decade ago, when I have them saved on a flash drive?
Little by little, I find myself discarding boxes and boxes of things that I no longer need to carry as I head forth into the next chapter.
But what has caught me off guard is that these physical boxes of things are not the only baggage that I find myself sorting through.
As I conclude my time at Christ our King, I find myself reflecting on the memories and moments that defined the last three years.
I recall the quiet moments of prayer in the chapel that we created out of an old food storage closet.
I remember basking in the joys of a snow day, celebrating mass in the living room and helping residents push their cars out from snow banks.
I remember cooking meals as we entertained dozens of friends, lounging outside on the patio sipping drinks and watching the sunset through the trees.
I remember the intense debates over politics and world events, sports team loyalties and the future of the parish.
I remember late night conversations in the living room, as we processed the deaths of our students, the stresses of our jobs, and the transitions that we would soon be going through.
And just like the process of cleaning a room, I have also been challenged to clean out my heart.
What wounds do I need to forgive?
What failures and mistakes do I need to learn from and then move beyond?
What nostalgia do I need to let go of so that I can embrace the new horizons that lie ahead?
What losses do I need to mourn and then say goodbye to, so that I can say another hello?
What should I carry with me into the future and what do I need to leave behind?
I believe that this is the question posed in many ways throughout the readings for this weekend.
It is the question posed by Elijah to Elisha
It is the question posed by Paul in his letter.
It is the questions posed by Jesus to each of the disciples who approached him.
And what I find interesting is that none of their requests seemed unreasonable. It is a good thing to bury our dead. It is a good thing to care for our families. It is a good thing to say goodbye. Freedom is a good thing.
But the caution found in these readings is that even good things can prevent us from following the path that God calls us to.
Sometimes we must set down what is good in order to embrace what is better.
And so we are challenged with the same question posed in the Scriptures.
What do we need to let go of in order to fully embrace our call in this moment?
Do we need to let go of the comfort and the stability that comes with routines? Do we need to allow God to shake up our lives with new doors that we never imagined opening, with change that we never wanted, with new opportunities we never envisioned, with new risks that scare us even as we take them.
Do we need to let go of family expectations that can confine or limit us? Do we need to let go of the family feuds, the skeletons in the proverbial closet, the nostalgia for simpler times? Must we still seek after a parent’s approval or pine for a father’s return, long after that ship has sailed?
Do we need to let go of our own past . . . of bitter regrets and failures, of losses that we have suffered and chapters that have ended.
Do we need to let go of nostalgia that has us living in the past. Idealizing a past age to prevent us from full engaging in the one in which we live.
Do we need to let go of those behaviors that rob us of the present moment . . . the addictions that ensnare us, the desire for independence that prevents us from asking for help, the prejudices that blossom into anger and hatred directed outward at all that is different, the fears that take on a life of their own and drive us to build walls that seal us off from the world as we find it.
My friends, each of us is always on the move. For we are not yet home.
And so I ask . . .
What baggage must we surrender in order to truly follow Christ? May God be Praised.