June 26 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Psalm 16, R. You are my inheritance, O Lord; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Gospel—Luke 9:51-62
“When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem …” (cf. Luke 9:51-62)
The opening line for today’s Gospel shows us the determination of Jesus to fulfill His mission.
This we can see in the prophecy of Isaiah (50:7), “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced, therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
In 2016, psychologist Angela Duckworth came out with her bestselling book, “Grit.”
She pointed out that people who are high achievers are driven by passion and perseverance beyond talent.
She wrote, “A focus on talent distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is effort.”
Duckworth’s work and other similar studies identified other qualities that account for success—humility, interpersonal skills, kindness, openness to learning, etc.
Let us reflect on Jesus’ resolute determination, which He nurtured in his followers, from the framework of grit, specifically, passion, perseverance and a sense of meaning and purpose, or mission.
Ignatius of Loyola 500 years ago highlighted the crucial role of passion in living out God’s will or mission and had a similar “conclusion” as Duckworth.
For Loyola, the first “task” is to know this will or mission, which we will reflect on last. The moment one knows this, one must reorient everything, all passions included, in pursuing this mission. It’s dedicating oneself totally to the work—totus ad laborem, as he put it.
Our Lord gave the same challenge to His followers; once one chooses to follow Him, there is no looking back as one passionately pursues the mission. Jesus showed this in His constant desire to do only the will of the Father.
His being “resolutely determined,” “setting his face like flint” towards Jerusalem are signs of this passion for mission.
At the same time, it was not all passion. There was the perseverance, marked by patience and discernment.
We often saw the Lord act with constancy and prudence, the hallmarks of perseverance. He was very disciplined in pursuing His mission, especially not giving in to fame and adulation, always persevering in doing it according to His Father’s will.
All this was guided and inspired by a clear sense of mission, or to be more precise, a clear sense of one’s identity and mission.
Jesus at the start of His ministry was blessed with this when at His baptism, it was revealed to him that He is the Beloved Son in whom His Father is well pleased. This defined and guided His ministry and mission.
His constant pursuit and perseverance was affirmed as He made his way to Jerusalem, when in his Transfiguration the Father affirmed Him and revealed His identity and mission to us through the apostles Peter, James and John.
Jesus, with His popularity and success among the crowds, could have taken the wide road to fame, success and power, but He chose the narrow road of loving obedience to His Father’s will and thus fulfilling His mission.
The passion and perseverance stemmed from this clear sense of mission, as well as identity. They then made possible the constant and prudent pursuit and completion of the mission.
Loyola’s own version of grit was having great courage and energy to undertake extraordinarily difficult tasks, to dream dreams larger than life that can make this world better.
This accounts for the beginnings of the passionate pursuit.
Then there is the perseverance in having the “great constancy” in pursuing the task coupled with “great prudence” in seeing the task to completion.
This is grit and grace—grit and grace that transformed a small group of men and women who shared in Jesus’ mission and learned from Him great energy and courage to take on a task that others dare not think of much less dream of; great constancy in pursuing the task; and great prudence in seeing the task to completion.
These are the men and women who edified and built the Kingdom of God in our midst. —CONTRIBUTED