Elijah and Elisha, St. Paul, and James and John were all called to be deeply involved in the work of God.
Elisha is an example of total commitment. When God called him through the aging Elijah, Elisha held nothing back. He bid his parents goodbye, he slaughtered his oxen and he used his plowing equipment as fuel for the fire to feed the people. He left
everything and followed Elijah.
St. Paul struggled, as we all do, with the question of freedom. He felt within his bones that eternal wrestling between the spirit and the flesh, between selfishness and selflessness, between giving totally and grasping acquisitiveness. St. Paul had to leave his old self behind, striving to embrace his new identity as a disciple of Jesus and an evangelist of the good news.
St. Paul knew so well that only Christ could set him free. And once freed, St. Paul urged himself and others not to return to our former slavery, the domination of the flesh, whatever is not God-like. Paul had to learn that freedom was both a grace and a responsibility.
James and John were called to be disciples and they, like Elijah and Elisha, left all to follow in God’s way. But that was only the beginning. Discipleship involves a long training session and mistakes would be made. A case in point: What is a disciple’s response when one is rejected? For the sons of thunder, the gut response is to destroy the rejecter. James and John would have fire sent down and burned the people. Jesus reprimanded them and, by example, showed them the way of compassion and love.
All evangelization and discipleship is focused on the kingdom. When one has a vision of the glory of God, God’s reign over human history, everything becomes fuel for the divine fire.
It all comes down to being a disciple/evangelist of God’s mercy and love. It all comes down to a freedom to love as Jesus did.
Questions for reflection
1. What is your understanding of discipleship and evangelization?
2. What does discipleship “cost”?
3. What is the connection between freedom and discipleship?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.