Liturgy of the Sunday

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Don Lorenzo Milani (+1967), a Florentine priest, prior in Barbiana, where he was a teacher of the children and youth of the Popular School he founded.

First Reading

1 Kings 19,16.19-21

You must anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel-Meholah, as prophet to succeed you. Leaving there, he came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. 'Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you,' he said. Elijah answered, 'Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?' Elisha turned away, took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the oxen's tackle for cooking the meat, which he gave the people to eat. He then rose and, following Elijah, became his servant.


Psalm 15


Lord you are the only true goodness.

Preserve me, God,
I take refuge in you.

I say to the Lord; 'You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone.'

He has put into my heart a marvellous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in his land.

Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
Never will I offer their offerings of blood.
Never will I take their name upon my lips.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.

'The lot marked out for me is my delight:
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.

I keep the Lord ever in my sight;
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

And so my heart rejoices,
my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.

For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Second Reading

Galatians 5,1.13-18

Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery. After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in the one commandment: You must love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another. Instead, I tell you, be guided by the Spirit, and you will no longer yield to self-indulgence. The desires of self-indulgence are always in opposition to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are in opposition to self-indulgence: they are opposites, one against the other; that is how you are prevented from doing the things that you want to. But when you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 9,51-62

Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, 'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?' But he turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village. As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus answered, 'Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.' Another to whom he said, 'Follow me,' replied, 'Let me go and bury my father first.' But he answered, 'Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.' Another said, 'I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good -- bye to my people at home.' Jesus said to him, 'Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


The evangelist writes that the days were approaching "for him to be taken up" and Jesus made the decision to walk towards Jerusalem. It is a firm, unmovable decision as we can sense from the terms used in the text. Jesus knew what was expecting him and a little further he will say: "Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem" (Lk 13:33).
That day, Jesus entrusted his dream to the disciples, just as Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha's shoulders. The image of the cloak that passes from Elijah to Elisha gives us a better understanding of the task that the Lord leaves to the disciples. It is not so heavy that they cannot bear it, if anything it is light so that it can be carried everywhere. That cloak, that dream, is the freedom to follow the Lord, it is the prophecy of the Gospel that each community is called to live and pass on to the one that follows.
Following the Gospel means accepting Jesus' cloak, his spirit of peace, and going forward. This is why he rebukes the disciples who would like to destroy the Samaritan village. It is not sufficient to follow, we need to also take the cloak of the Gospel. Following of Jesus is not the fruit of a personal impulse, perhaps to acquire some privilege. The Son of Man has no stable abode, the only thing he has is his cloak, that is the dream of saving the world from evil. For this reason - and this is the meaning of the other two episodes - following requires the abandonment of other ties that can slow down or even betray the dream. Through the paradoxes of one's father's funeral and the greeting to the family that he forbids those who want to follow him, Jesus claims the primacy of the cloak of the kingdom. He does not want to prevent acts of mercy and humanity. Far from it. But Jesus clearly affirms the absolute primacy of the Gospel over our lives. It is not a claim of the strongest. Often, balanced judgments conceal contempt for the weak to save one's distance and avoid involvement. Jesus knows very well that there is no compassion without his cloak, there is no freedom outside his path to Jerusalem: either we are free with him, or we become slaves of the many masters of this world and, often, the first master is our own self. And we understand the reason for the grave final statement: "No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." But, we might add, whoever takes up the cloak, even if weak - and we are all weak - becomes worthy and strong for the kingdom.