Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - June 30, 2019
As the disciples were called, we are called to serve Jesus. We are to listen for the call to serve and respond to it immediately.
The picture here is of "Salvation Mountain" in Calipatria, CA, not far from Saltan Sea. Salvation Mountain is a life's work of love and faith in God, and a perfect example of one man's (Leonard Knight) ability to leave everything to follow the call of God in his life. At the age of 35, sitting in his van outside his sisters house, he didn't know why but he started reciting "The Sinners Prayer", over and over:
Jesus, I am a sinner. Please come upon my body, and into my heart.
And on that Wednesday at 10:30 in the morning, in his van, by himself, he accepted Jesus into his heart and he was never the same since! According to Leonard it was just that simple, like it says in the Bible: accept Jesus into your heart, repent your sins, and be saved. His passion and dedication to bringing not only the sinner's prayer but the message that "GOD IS LOVE" and his new-found knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to everyone never wavered for the next 50 years!
The story of Salvation Mountain, declared a national treasure by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California in May 15, 2002, is bitter-sweet and worth the effort to go and see. https://www.salvationmountain.us/menu.html It was also a topic on Huell Howser's Calfornia's Gold, twice, the last time in 2009.
With regard to the longevity of his devotion to Salvation Mountain, Leonard Knight had this to say: "I was going to stay one week. It's been a very good week." L. Knight 1996
In the first reading from the book of 1Kings, Elisha is called to follow Elijah so that Elijah can teach him all he knows about God and prophecy, and Elisha would replace Elijah when he dies in the service of God. It isn't unusual that Elisha asks if he can please return home and kiss his father and mother and tell them good-bye. Elijah allowed for this and Elisha returned home and slaughtered all his oxen and used the ox cart for fuel to cook all the meat for his family. What just happened here? Elisha completely divested himself of all his earthly concerns, and knowing he would not see them again in life, left what he could with his parents: his love and provisions of food for them. This demonstrated Elisha's powerful determination to follow the call of the Lord. Elisha accepted the anointing 4 years before he began serving Elijah directly, and served Elijah for 8 years, replacing him when he was taken into heaven by the Lord.
In the Gospel, three different men responded to the call to follow Jesus.
To one he responded, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." This statement illustrates that Jesus himself has no comfort or security - his disciples must look to His example discipleship.
One of them wanted to first go and bury his father before leaving to follow Jesus, who said, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." "The dead" are those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ. They won't follow him - so let them take care of burying their dead who are now beyond earthly assistance. This man, as a believer, is very valuable for spreading The Gospel, The Good News, to more people who can find salvation through Jesus.
The last one wanted to say good-bye to his family, and Jesus replied, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." Meaning, once you set your eyes and feet on achieving the Kingdom of God, there is no looking back at what you left behind, otherwise you lose your way forward, you lose the path.
Jesus uses these three to teach his disciples, and everyone who hears this Gospel, about the demands of discipleship: those who follow Jesus must be ready to be without home, comforts and security; discipleship is more important than family ties and earthly obligations; once you set your eyes and feet on achieving the Kingdom of God, there is no looking back at what you left behind, otherwise you lose your way ahead; and the relationship of Jesus with his disciples is permanent and unconditional. These descriptions of discipleship remind me of Leonard Knight, the builder of Salvation Mountain.
Jesus would only be in our presence for a very short time - Jesus and his saving message did not have the luxury of time to convert the hearts of men so as to produce enough of a following who could carry the Gospel, after Jesus is not longer physically in their presence, to all nations. This urgency has not changed - we must answer the call immediately.
The trick for us is letting go of everything that is of the world we live in, and holding on to the promises of Christ Jesus and the Kingdom of God. We can do this if we can love God first, love others second and love ourselves third. We will clearly hear the voice of God when we are not listening to everything else before Him.
The Psalm this week is Psalm 16: You Are My Inheritance O’ Lord.
Have a blessed week! Make this the week you begin anew some practice that will focus your thoughts, your words and your actions on following Jesus NOW. Contemplate the Sinners Prayer...say it over and over ... Leonard said it was easy to convert his heart, it took only a moment.