In the story preceding today’s reading, the prophet Elijah flees for his life to the security of God’s mountain. There God reveals to Elijah that there are still other faithful people in Israel and commissions him to anoint new leaders, including his own successor, Elisha.
15Then the Lord said to [Elijah,] “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you
arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also 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.
19So 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. 20He 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?” 21He 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.
1Protect me, O God, for I take ref- | uge in
I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good a- | bove all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are | in the land,
upon those who are noble a- | mong the people.
3But those who run after | other gods
shall have their troubles | multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings | to such gods,
never take their names up- | on my lips.
5O Lord, you are my portion | and my cup;
it is you who up- | hold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a | pleasant land;
indeed, I have a | rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who | gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me night | after night.
8I have set the Lord al- | ways before me;
because God is at my right hand, I shall | not be shaken.
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spir- | it rejoices;
my body also shall | rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me | to the grave,
nor let your holy one | see the pit.
11You will show me the | path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for- | evermore.
For Paul, the freedom Christ gives is not permission to do whatever we want. It is the invitation to be what we could not be otherwise. The power and guidance of Christ’s Holy Spirit produce a different kind of life, one marked by the fruit of this Holy Spirit.
1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Jesus is unwavering in his commitment to his mission in Jerusalem and will not be swayed by pettiness. In a series of striking cases in point, he calls his disciples to a similar single-mindedness.
51When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to
Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for
him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want
us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”