NEITHER SETTLING DOWN NOR LOOKING BACK
To follow Jesus is the heart of Christian life. It is what is essential. Nothing else is more important or decisive. This is precisely why Luke describes three small scenes for the communities that will read his Gospel account and will realize that there is nothing more urgent and more unpostponable than this in Jesus’ eyes.
Jesus employs harsh and shocking images. It is clear that he wants to shake up consciences. He is not looking for more followers, but for more committed followers, who will follow him unreservedly, renouncing false securities and practicing necessary detachment. His words fundamentally pose just the one question: What relationship do we want to establish with him, we who call ourselves Christians?
One of those who accompany him feels so drawn to Jesus that, even before Jesus calls him, he volunteers: I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus makes him aware of what he is saying. He tells him, Foxes have dens and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.
To follow Jesus is a real adventure. He does not offer those who belong to him either security or well-being. He is of no helf as far as making money or acquiring power is concerned. To follow Jesus is “to be on the road.” Jesus’ followers do not settle down in comfort nor do they seek false refuge in religion. A less powerful and more vulnerable Church is not a disgrace. It is the best thing that can happen to us in order to purify our faith and trust more in Jesus.
Another person is ready to follow him, but asks first to fulfill the sacred obligation of “burying his father.” The request should not surprise any Jew, since it involves one of the most important religious obligations. Jesus’ reply is unsettling: Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
To open up paths to God’s kingdom by working for a life more worthy of human beings is always the most urgent task. Nothing should delay our decision. No one must hold us back or stop us. The “dead” who do not place their lives at the service of the kingdom of life will soon be devoted to other religious obligations that are less pressing than God’s kingdom and his justice.
Jesus says to a third person who wants to say goodbye to his family before following him: No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God. We cannot possibly open up paths to God’s kingdom while we remain in the past. To work on the Father’s project requires complete dedication as well as trust in God’s future and audacity to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
June 26, 2016
13 Sunday O.T. (C)
Luke 9, 51-62