As we turn from Eastertide to Ordinary Time, we are steeped once again in the fundamental paradox of being Christian: We are witnesses to the Resurrection, yet we continue to live as disciples caught up in the struggles of the world around us. The scripture readings of this June raise up this paradox as they juxtapose life and death, sin and forgiveness, judgment and love, deprivation and abundance, freedom and commitment. A widow in Zarephath and another in Nain each lose a son. But then their sons are restored to them, and with that their hope. King David and the woman with the Alabaster jar are caught up in guilt, but then in their repentance they encounter God's abundant mercy. Likewise, even in our own brokenness, we have abundant causes to hope in the power of God's mercy and love. God is always waiting to forgive us, and the Holy Spirit is there to enliven us once again. Thus when some preach doom and despair in the face of the destruction we have witnessed to our planet, the Christian response must be one of perseverance, hope, and commitment to leaving a living planet to future generations.
The demands of discipleship stand out in the gospel readings for the last two Sundays of June.There Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for the reality that lies ahead, his redemptive suffering, crucifixion and death. And he tells them plainly that following him entails suffering and sacrifice. Ultimately, as Jesus resolves to set out to Jerusalem, they resolve to follow him in solidarity. Like the disciples, we may find that we falter as we attempt to follow Jesus in discipleship. Nonetheless, we must imitate the disciples in accepting the mercy and forgiveness of God. If we persevere in humility, we will find that we, too, put on Christ, and clothed in Christ, we find our true identity in him.