Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, 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. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s first reading from 1 Kings and today’s gospel from Luke offer stories of invitation and call to follow. Elijah in his encounter with God on the mountain is told to anoint Elisha to be his successor. Elijah is very no-nonsense. He throws his cloak over Elisha. When Elisha asks if he can kiss his father and mother goodbye, Elijah growls. Elisha’s response is to slaughter the oxen he has been plowing with, feed his people, and follow Elijah.
There are many calls in our lives. Some like Elisha’s are to a new way of life like marriage or the single life, religious life or priesthood. But each of us receives daily calls within those calls. We begin our days, hopefully asking God’s help to be open and generous to those calls that come our way this new day—calls from a friend in need, calls from an illness (our own or that of someone else), meeting strangers with their needs, dealing with joy and sorrows. We are invited at the end of the day to see how we responded to those calls to to understand God’s presence within them.
The stories from the Hebrew Scriptures and Luke’s gospel invite us to have open and generous hearts—like Luke’s Jesus, like our Jesus. Can we make that simple but life-changing prayer: Give us hearts like Jesus’ heart?
Father in heaven, the light of Jesus has scattered the darkness of hatred and sin.
Called to that light we ask for your guidance.
Form our lives in your truth, our hearts in your love.
—from The Sacramentary, © 1985, Catholic Book Publishing Co.