You may like to listen to the beautiful Irish hymn, ‘Be Thou My Vision’, from 'A Noble Work' for our song of the week.
The imagery of ploughing presents itself in the readings today. The prophet Elisha in 1 Kings 19:16. 19-21 was ploughing the field when he was asked to follow the prophet Elijah. He had to leave behind all that was familiar to him and begin a whole new life. He must have felt a real call in his heart to be a prophet too or else he wouldn’t have followed Elijah. Something was going on inside him and he was ready to respond. It happens like that for all of us when an important decision must be made.
And Jesus said in Lk 9:51-62, ‘once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
What do you understand by that?
It’s what Jesus did himself. We heard at the beginning of our Gospel story that as the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely took the road to Jerusalem. He was determined, focussed, looking forward, not looking back or running away from what he knew he had to face in Jerusalem. If the one doing the ploughing is not focussed on a fixed point ahead the furrows produced in the ground will be crooked. Jesus uses this image to teach us.
Jesus looked straight ahead towards the city of Jerusalem because it was there that he was to carry out what his Father was asking of him. His relationship with his Father and bringing about the Kingdom of God was his fixed point. And we know that in Jerusalem he was prepared to face rejection and be put to death on the Cross out of love for his Father and for our salvation.
People who want to progress in anything keep their eyes fixed on the goal they want to achieve. Often it means huge sacrifices and great determination.
Jesus teaching us to keep our hand on the plough is asking us to keep our eyes fixed on him so that we keep on track. For him to be our fixed point. Sometimes we allow other things to get in the way and we get distracted from our true path. They never really satisfy or make us happy in the end.
Jesus shows his face to us in all kinds of ways and it is for us to hold his gaze, keep him ever in our sight as Psalm 15 states. He shows himself to us through loved ones and other people in our lives we have a responsibility towards. He shows us his face in those who draw out from us kindness and compassion and even in the faces of people who challenge us to forgive or to accept forgiveness from us.
It’s his way of saying to us, ‘follow me’, give your heart to me, do what you have seen me do. Keep your eyes fixed on me. Come to me, call on me, I’m on your side and I’ll always be with you. I need you to bring my life to others.
Listen to ‘Be Thou My Vision’, from 'A Noble Work