13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
1 Kings 19:16b: 19-21
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
June 30, 2013
Sr. Edna’s Retirement
Jesus demands an immediate response of his disciples. When I say immediate, Jesus does not even grant time to go say farewell to their families.
This seems tough. I think specifically here of my call to priesthood. From the time I first felt called to the priesthood to the time I entered seminary was almost 18 months. Most of that was deciding to go but then waiting for the start of a semester. It wasn’t a question of saying no at first. I like to think a lot of the time was me deciding it was really God calling me. Regardless, my “yes” response was not immediate.
This “demand” for an immediate response was not new with Jesus. We see it in our reading with Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was a great prophet and God had picked Elisha to be his successor. When God told Elijah this, he didn’t argue. He did what God told him to do.
He goes and puts his cloak on Elisha. This is a sign of Elisha’s appointment as his successor. Elisha offers no objections but does ask for time to go say goodbye to his parents. Even this much can seem amazing to us but it is not enough. Elijah demands an immediate response.
Elisha gives that response, burns the equipment and gives the meat from the livestock to others and follows Elijah.
An immediate response.
As I listen to the story of Elijah and Elisha, I can’t help but think how it parallels Sr. Edna’s call to be a religious.
It was back in 1958 that she joined the Sisters of Mercy. She was having an ordinary day going about her business when the mother superior came to her, put a habit on her, and said come with me.
Well, there was some difference. As she was plowing the fields, Sr. Edna didn’t ask to go say goodbye to her parents. Her response was to tell ‘mother superior’ that she had a date that night to which ‘mother’ replied “no more dating.” Sr. Edna followed her and the rest is history.
Of course, I am making this up. I don’t know how Sr. Edna received her call to join the Sisters of Mercy (although I suspect she’s going to tell me after this!).
The point is she said yes and for the last 55 years she has continued to say yes. This Sunday is her last day of work as she retires. She is retiring from her job but she doesn’t stop being a Sister of Mercy and she doesn’t stop serving God. That will continue to the day she dies.
These readings today and celebrating Sr. Edna’s retirement should lead us all to think and pray about how we are responding to God’s call.
Now I hope there are males here today who are think about becoming a priest, deacon, or religious and I hope just as much that there are some females here who think about becoming a religious sister. It can be a rewarding life. It is a lot of work for me to be a priest and pastor but I can’t imagine doing anything else. Sr. Edna over the years has put in a lot of hours as a sister. I’m sure there were struggles along the way but in faith she preserved.
If you are thinking about priesthood, talk to me. If you are thinking about religious life, talk to Sr. Edna or Sr. Elise.
But also realize that if you aren’t called to be a religious, deacon, or priest that doesn’t mean that God isn’t calling you to serve in some way.
We are all called through our baptism to serve God. We can serve God in the way we are parents to our children. We serve God in the way we care for other people. We can serve God by helping our parish to fulfill its mission using the gifts we have been given as good stewards. We serve God by visibly living out our faith to help others come to faith. We can serve God by standing up for what we believe in. We can serve God by simply doing our best.
God is calling you to do something. What is it and what are you waiting fo