Ordinary Time 13, Year C-2010
- I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good (Ps. 16:2)
Elisha burned his bridges, if I may say so. He would, as an attendant, follow Elijah and not return ever to the way of life he had had up until that moment. Hence, he slaughtered his yoke of oxen, used the plowing equipment as firewood to boil ox meat, and gave it to his people to eat.
Vincent de Paul was slower to respond to the call. But after getting to know “the depths of his own poverty and the graciousness of God’s mercy” in his “prolonged experience of anguish, desperation and suffering” (cf. Hugh F. O’Donnell, C.M., “Vincent de Paul: His Life and Way,” in Frances Ryan, D.C., and John E. Rybolt, C.M., eds., Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac [New York: Paulist Press, 1995] 17) and coming to identify with the poor in a welfare hospital, he finally accepted the Lord’s invitation. He would no longer be the priest who was mostly concerned with landing a church position financially lucrative enough for him “to retire early, return home, and provide for his family” (Ibid., 15). He would no longer submit ever again to the yoke of enslaving selfish ambition and be instead on the way to freedom by following the Evangelizer of the poor in his journey to Jerusalem, to death and resurrection. Vincent would now follow Jesus wherever he would go, moving from one village to another, passing at times through hostile territory, surely committed to an itinerant mission with preference for the poor and without either guaranteeing a place where to lay one’s head or allowing any kind of temporizing. And so Vincent burned his bridges, letting go of a large sum of money that he had received as a personal gift by donating it to the welfare hospital where he ministered to the poor (cf. Thomas F. McKenna, C.M., Praying with Vincent de Paul [Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 1994] 53; Jacques Delarue, The Holiness of Vincent de Paul [London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1960] 14).
Now I wonder what bridges ought I to burn, that may pave the way to being genuinely in communion with Jesus and partaking ultimately in Jesus’ giving up his body and shedding his blood.