When God calls, there’s no time to waste
After the Easter season concludes, we celebrate the solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on the two Sundays after Pentecost, and then we return to the normal rhythm of Ordinary Time. As we resume this liturgical season, the readings call on us to confront a difficult reality: What will happen to our work when we are gone?
“I will follow you wherever you go” (Lk 9:57).
What can you do to share your knowledge with future leaders?
What will your legacy be?
How can you inspire the work of others?
The readings for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time are clearly influenced by the months-long seasons of Lent and Easter. Having spent months preparing for and praying on Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, today’s readings inspire reflection on impact and legacy. In the first reading from 1 Kings, Elijah calls Elisha to travel with him on his prophetic ministry. Elijah selects Elisha as a disciple and successor. Interrupting Elisha’s agricultural work, Elijah symbolically throws his cloak on him, signaling that he is called to be a prophet. Elijah implores the prophet to let him say goodbye to his parents, and when Elijah shows dissatisfaction with the request, Elisha abruptly uproots his life to follow him.
In the Gospel from Luke, Jesus also calls people to follow him, but each has a reason not to go right away, echoing Elisha’s initial reaction. “Let me go first and bury my father… let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus responds unfavorably to their hesitation, emphasizing that a call from God should be answered immediately and enthusiastically. Jesus’ and Elijah’s rejection of delay is not just about speed. It is also an indication that God’s call should be prioritized.
Both Elijah and Jesus called followers in order to empower the community to participate in their ministry and continue their work after their departure. These leaders recognized the importance of instilling wisdom and conferring authority so that service, proclamation and renewal can continue. They showed thoughtfulness and attention to their legacy, even beyond their own lifetimes.
Today’s readings remind us to be mindful of how we can prepare others to grow as leaders and shape the future. What can we do to share our knowledge and teach future generations how to continue our work? How can we engage our communities and integrate new voices and perspectives?
Elijah and Jesus recognized that their ministry was a community effort, not a one-person endeavor. The Vincentian Leadership Model is an excellent example of today’s readings in action, as the model uses practices and principles that are rooted in community engagement. Sts. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac encountered many people in need, and while they personally served their communities, they also engaged, invited and inspired others to participate in their ministries. The Vincentian Leadership Model emphasizes teamwork and collaboration to address the needs of the world and ensure that work continues beyond our own lifetime. The legacies of Sts. Vincent and Louise continue today in societies such as the Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Ladies of Charity and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. As we reflect on today's readings and the work of Sts. Vincent and Louise, we should be inspired to thoughtfully and creatively engage others and inspire future generations.