Ordinary 13th Sunday – INSECURE, YET SECURE
Ordinary 13th Sunday
1Kg. 19: 16b, 19-21 Gal. 5; 1, 13-18 Lk. 9: 51-62
INSECURE, YET SECURE
To be the disciple of Jesus is to find security in God, not in anything else.
Discipleship: Two Kinds
It is said that there are two types of discipleship: One is the Galilean discipleship and the other, the Jerusalem discipleship. The Galilean discipleship is centred around miracles, works of wonders, sensational signs, fulfilment of needs etc.. When Jesus was in Galilee, he performed a lot of miracles and extraordinary acts such as healing, exorcism and multiplication of bread. This attracted quite a number of people towards Jesus. They followed him and their main intent was to be the beneficiaries of his miracles. However when Jesus set his eyes on Jerusalem and started his journey towards it (today’s gospel), he began to speak about suffering, self-denial and detachment. This is what the Jerusalem discipleship is all about.
Galilean discipleship is very shallow and not so deep-rooted. When Jesus spoke in contrary to the expectations of his so-called followers, they were unhappy about it and did not hesitate to turn their back to him (Jn. 6: 60, 66). In fact, miracles and works of wonders create more devotees, not disciples. On the contrary Jerusalem discipleship, though only a few opt for it, is a deeply rooted one. It brings total change in the life of a person. It is the real discipleship, proper to its name.
Disciples and Devotees:
Miracles look like that they enhance our lives, but the truth is that they don’t bring substantial change in our lives. They just feed our ego. On the contrary, factors like self-denial, detachment and suffering look like that they cause us to lose our life, but the truth is that they help us to shed the skin of false self and discover our real self. To be a disciple is to embark upon a journey of discovering one’s true self. To be a disciple is to live a life of higher order. To be a disciple is to live a life of discipline. To be a disciple means to leave behind the inclinations and desires of one’s own and make the Master’s will as one’s own, so that one may find one’s life.
To be a disciple is different from being a devotee. A devotee pushes one’s own likes and dislikes on God and wants God to act accordingly; A disciple, on the other hand, empties oneself of one’s own likes and dislikes and allows God to work through oneself. A devotee approaches God for his/her own sake; but a disciple approaches God for God’s own sake. A devotee puts one’s own self as the centre of one’s spiritual life; a disciple places God as the centre of one’s spiritual life. The truth is many of the so-called religious people are more devotees than disciples. One of the important challenges of our Christian life is to move from being devotees to being disciples. That is the challenge the readings of today offer us. Besides offering us the challenge, they also offer us a method to become authentic disciples of Christ. The method is to embrace a life of insecurity.
A Path to Discipleship: Insecurity:
All of us want our lives to be safe and secure. This is one of the basic survival mechanism, inbuilt in us. There is nobody in the world who would voluntarily embrace something that makes oneself insecure and unsafe. The search for three Ps – possession, position, power – is oriented towards security.
Though seeking security is good, it has got its limitations too. First of all, security makes us get entangled in a narrow circle. There are plenty of people who live their lives in a limited way just to make sure that their life is safe. Secondly, when a person lives within the boundary of secured walls, one closes down all the avenues of growth, since growth entails a certain amount of risk and insecurity. Thirdly, security imprisons us in the peripheral aspects of our life and does not much allow us to go deeper into ourselves and find our true worth. Fourthly, life becomes more mechanical and routine. Fifthly and more importantly, a safe and secure life does not create much of space for God in our lives.
The first person who wanted to follow Jesus (in the gospel) must have had security in his mind. He thought that if he would be with Jesus, his basic needs would be automatically assured (since Jesus was an expert in multiplication of bread, healing etc..). Jesus, knowing the mindset of the person, told him how insecure his life was. The words, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” point out that his life was highly insecure. The reason why Jesus speaks of insecurity here is this: Only when a person embraces insecurity, there are more possibilities for seeking security in God. That is what Jesus’ life was, and that is what discipleship is all about. Yoke and oxen were security for Elisha. They helped him in his livelihood. When he decided to follow Elijah, he “took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate.” It is to say that he got rid of those things that gave him security so far, and is now ready for a life of insecurity, totally depending on God for his security.
If the above 3Ps offer us a type of security, there is also another P – persons – that offers another type of security to our lives. The second and third persons, (one Jesus wanted him to follow and the other wanted to follow Jesus), were those who found their security in their relationship with the family members. Jesus was so radical about the life of insecurity that he wanted the future followers to renounce finding security even in one’s family members. Here it has to be noted that Jesus did not go against the love of the parents and the family members, but rather attachment towards them.
In the second reading, St. Paul talks about not yielding to the cravings of flesh, but to walk in accordance with the promptings of the Spirit. Living our lives in accordance to the promptings of the Spirit will certainly make our lives more insecure. One of the principles of spirituality is that the more security we find in things, the less we find it in God. On the contrary, when we find less security in things, then we will find more security in God.