Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

Excerpt from

Paradoxically, Jesus' words about family ties may be easier for a Buddhist to understand than for a contemporary Christian. Trained to believe that attachments lie at the root of suffering, causing cravings, illusions and desires, Buddhists recognize the transience of life, seeking self-mastery through meditation and the practice of detachment.We Christians, on the other hand, tend to be very "western" in outlook. First of all, "self-mastery" is a foreign concept for most of us. While we may have a strong sense of sin or guilt that keeps us in line ethically speaking, we may also be very self-indulgent when it comes to our needs, our wants, our relationships, our careers ... Influenced by the culture in which we live, many of us practice a "materialistic Christianity," one which assumes we have a right to the goods of this world and to all the comforts, conveniences and guarantees that life can offer us. For most of us, the very idea that our Christian faith might entail losing those things to which we feel entitled is repulsive.

When we deify relationships, possessions, patriotism, credentials, personal safety or anything else, giving them ultimate reality, then in fact, we are committing the sin of idolatry. Are we tied down by our attachments, or are we free enough to respond to God's call to deeper commitment and deeper loving? Are we free enough to be disciples?

Elizabeth-Anne Stewart
c 2009 (pgs. 12-13)

Preaching and Teaching Laudato Si' is a simply written primer for those who wish to preach, teach or reflect on the spiritual implications of a green agenda; it is a resource for those of any faith who wish to respond to the Pope's plea for ecological conversion.


  1. What have you been called away from and what have you been called to instead?
  2. Have you ever heard God's call but said "No" because the price seemed too costly?
  3. What are the most difficult things for you to let go of?
  4. What gifts have emerged from the times when you have let go in response to God's call?
  5. What would make the Sunday Homily more relevant to your life and to the challenges you face as a Christian?
Greetings, Readers!

As thoughts begin to turn towards the celebration of the Fourth of July , this is a good time to assess what the holiday actually represents. A week from now, there will be fireworks, parades, and stars and stripes everywhere -- but what does it mean to be really patriotic? Hugging a flag or singing the Star Spangled Banner does not make one a patriot any more than enjoying a family barbeque does. I believe the real patriot is the person who reveres the values upon which this country was established and who is committed to upholding those values.

Foundational to the celebration of the Fourth of July is the Declaration of Independence and at the core of this document is the following statement:

WE  hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—
The measure of our patriotism is the extent to which we live by this principle: if all people are created equal, then how do we treat them and how do we ensure that their rights are protected? In America today, minority groups are feeling less safe than ever, with hate crimes on the rise and white supremacists emboldened to spread their venom. As Christians, do we speak out? Do we come to the defense of the marginalized? Do we put our discipleship into practice by offering our support to those who are treated as less equal than others? Do we pressure our Representatives to bring about the legislative changes that will protect the most vulnerable among us?

Being a patriot also involves the willingness to say, "Not in MY name!" and to oppose government polices which are contrary to American ideals. Breaking-news stories this week have exposed the "concentration camp" conditions that migrant children are enduring at some detention centers -- the absence of soap, toothpaste, diapers, beds, etc. Separated from their parents, children as young as four months old are in the care of other children in settings that can only be described as barbaric. Is this what America stands for? What is the responsibility of every patriot, regardless of political affiliations or religious tradition? To stay silent and do nothing is to be complicit.

It's too early to wish each other a "Happy Fourth of July!" but it's not too early to ask ourselves 1) what our faith demands of us at this moment in history and 2) how we can best put our patriotic ideals into practice.

Many Blessings!


As they proceeded on their journey, someone said to him,
"I will follow you wherever you go." 
Jesus answered,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me." 
But the man replied, "Lord, let me first bury my father." 
Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 
Another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home." 
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."
LK 9: 51-62

Today's Gospel is sandwiched between "The Mission of the Twelve" (Lk 9:1-6) and the "Mission of the Seventy-Two" (Lk 10:1-12). As Jesus sends forth his followers, he gives them the same instructions on both occasions; they are to proclaim the Good News, heal the sick, travel lightly, and only stay where they are welcome. Between these two narratives, there is a great deal of activity -- the Feeding of the Five Thousand, two predictions of the Passion, Peter's statement of faith, Jesus' Transfiguration, the Healing of a Boy with a Demon and, last but not least, Jesus' explanation of the requirements for discipleship; these requirements are mirrored in the story of the call of Elisha, (1 Kgs 19: 16b, 19-21), our first reading today. We can summarize Elisha's call in this way:

He is leading a full, active life, helping to farm his family's estate.
Elijah calls him to be his successor by placing his cloak upon him.
Elisha immediately responds but asks if he can say goodbye to his parents.
Elijah's enigmatic reply ("Go back! Have I done anything to you?") suggests this is not the right response.
This is ambiguous but it seems that instead of saying goodbye to his parents, Elisha slaughters his oxen (2 or 24 -- not clear), burns his plow for fuel and cooks a feast for his servants. The alternate interpretation is that he does go back to say goodbye to his parents and then burns the plow.
Then he follows Elijah.

Jesus' requirements for discipleship closely follow this pattern: "would-be" disciples must be willing to let go their former way of life; their response must be immediate; there is no looking-back; and they must be willing to embrace hardships and uncertainty as part of the journey.

The Gospel message presents a very different kind of Christianity than most of us practice; in fact, this is not the Christianity that we typically hear preached on Sundays. Sitting in our padded pews, we usually hear sermons that reinforce our world view or at least fail to challenge us beyond our comfort levels. Too many homilists are careful to avoid controversial topics and instead focus on leaving the assembly "feeling good." Even the Prayers of the Faithful are safely "generic," avoiding the specificity that would startle, disturb or "wake up" the sleeping assembly.

But while "feeling good" confirms us in our mediocrity, The Way that Jesus proclaims is risky, costly and counter-cultural. It demands radical detachment from everything that we have worked towards, valued and cherished. Just as Elisha wants to say goodbye to his parents, the modern disciple must be willing to let go of everything, including family ties and friendships. Just as Elisha burns his plow, so modern disciples need to jettison everything upon which they previously depended for employment, status and identity -- unless, that is, God calls them to use these advantages in a new way. Instead of publishing "pulp fiction," for example, a writer may use his or her talents as a tool for evangelization; or instead of working in commercial banking, someone else might use his or her skills to raise funds for a homeless shelter or for another not-for-profit entity. When God calls, our task is to respond immediately and then see what God is asking of us: what to keep and what to let go, what to "burn" and what to "re-purpose," when to leave and when to stay, what doors to close and what doors to open.... If we are to be "fit for the Kingdom of God," our "yes" to the call must involve a total self-giving with no strings attached!

A "Drop In" Info Session on Image Guidance for those who offer inner guidance of any kind or who are interested in learning more about imagery and healing.

Discover how Imagery can help YOUR clients move beyond impasse into new possibilities!

DATE: July 10th, 2019
TIME: noon-4:00 p.m.
PLACE: 30 N. Michigan Ave #280,
Chicago, IL 60602


Archetypes as Inner Tyrants, Inner Guides
Infinity Foundation, Highland Park, IL
June 24th, July 1st, July 8th, 2019
Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m. CST

Imagery and Spiritual Awakening
Institute for Life Coach Training
Tele-course, Tuesday nights, October 15-November 26th, 2019. 5:00-6:30 pm CST
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. I work "in person" as well as remotely by phone, Zoom or Skype; I am also available to facilitate retreats for groups and individuals.

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,