There is a sense of call in today’s readings, underlying our theme of Vocation explored on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. We hear Elisha called to assume the prophetic mantle of Elijah after first kissing his parents goodbye and setting off to follow the prophet’s call; we hear Jesus saying “Follow me”, and St Paul tells us that we are “called to liberty.” All of this begs the question, what does this all mean for us in our current state of life? It is interesting that the Gospel focuses on the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where he would bring his three-year ministry to its sacrificial high point. His entire ministry was a journey, and in as sense his journey becomes symbolic to the journey of all Christians; we might even call this journey a pilgrimage. We are not headed for an earthly destination but are on the pilgrim journey to the heavenly Jerusalem. The difference is that we are pilgrims with Jesus, just as his disciples were.
All the incidents that Luke has gathered together in today’s Gospel reading are in fact instructions meant to guide us on the way, almost like a manual of the Christian way of discipleship. They tell us how to respond to Jesus’ call; how to follow him; how to walk with him. We can see that the requirements are radical: they involve challenging our whole outlook and thought about life, the usual human experiences of rejection and anger, our solutions to social and political problems, racial and cultural differences, religious prejudices; our attitude to home and possessions, undue possessiveness; attitudes to family and friends, introverted and self-centred affection. We are required to hear the urgent and uncompromising call of Our Lord, to answer him without fear, knowing that he has already attained the goal on our behalf. In fact, we are to assume the prophet’s mantle, and to become spokespeople for the Truth. This is possible because his service is perfect freedom in the service of each other through the love of Christ. St Pauls tells us that the Spirit will enable us to discover the true meaning of liberty in the mystery of love, and the assumption of Jesus’ yoke which is light. He will bring us rest and refreshment for our souls. He will free us so that we can set others free in his name.