10.3.18 Wed. wk. 26 – O. T. (II)
Job 9: 1 – 2, – 12, 14 -16
Luke 9: 57 – 62
As †Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” †Jesus answered him, “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 he replied, “[Lord,] let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And 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.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Don’t Wait; Come Now!
†Jesus is gentle and †Jesus is demanding. This is the image we have of the Lord in the Scriptures. Today’s Gospel passage takes place after †Jesus had just passed through Samaritan territory. He was on His way to Jerusalem, but the Samaritans would not welcome †Jesus because to the Samaritans – Jerusalem was the center of Apostasy. And since †Jesus was heading to the center of Apostasy – they wanted nothing to do with Him. They wouldn’t listen to His teaching – so they told Him to leave.
Of course we know that James and John, ‘The Sons of Thunder’, asked the Lord to call down fire and brimstone and destroy those Samaritan people because they would not listen to His teaching. But †Jesus understood the Samaritans and rather than hate in response to hate – He forgave and He continued on His journey.
St. Paul writes in in his Letter to the Galatians: “If you go on biting and devouring one another – beware that you are not consumed by one another”. (Gal.5:15) Words we should take to heart in the 21st century.
After this amazing example of tolerance on †Jesus’ part toward the Samaritan people – there followed a moment demonstrating how profoundly demanding †Jesus can be. When †Jesus summoned a potential disciple, He said: “Follow me”. The man then made a reasonable request: “Let me go first and bury my father”. (Luke 9:59) And what did †Jesus say? “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God”. (Luke 9:60) This was not a command to skip the funeral of the man’s father; it had nothing to do with that. We don’t even know if the man’s father was even dead. But it was a challenge for him to leave home – now – and not wait 30 years from now – when his parents were dead. It was a call to join the Master’s mission – to be part of the journey – now – and not put it off. An urgent challenge; absolutely! Cold and unreasonable? No; not at all.
What does following †Jesus look like in our life? At the time of †Jesus – the disciples had to be on the move; that was part of the mission. They had to go and proclaim the ‘Good News of Salvation’ to all people. So there was a physical as well as a metaphorical removal of themselves from all attachments. The disciples had to leave their fishing industry – Matthew had to leave his tax collecting. They had to physically follow †Jesus to proclaim the ‘Good News’. But today – to follow †Jesus and proclaim the Gospel – might be more simple; by letting go of my own ego – removing self from self by letting go of the fear of standing with †Jesus, in the midst of an anti-Christian culture. Putting aside my wants and desires – to live as a disciple. To surrender myself in caring for another person – that’s what responding to the call of †Jesus looks in our time.
Listen to the journey of †Jesus to Jerusalem, not just look at – or observe – but listen to the journey and the things that He says. It is an example of what the cost of discipleship is all about. Anywhere – anytime – anyplace – †Jesus will call us – nudge us. We must anticipate the call – we must be ready to say: “Yes”. And that means not having things that we are so attached to, that we can’t let them go. †Jesus is inviting us all to break free of the expectations that our culture has on us. We must let go of those expectations – we have to let go of the ‘yoke of slavery’ that the world wants to put on us – to keep us bound. We are to announce the reign of God – to live in expectation of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. This is what our gentle – yet demanding God asks of us. St. Paul reminds us: “So you were called to freedom but do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh – rather serve one another through love.” (Gal. 5:13)
So †Jesus is calling each one of us to journey with Him – to Him, and – for Him. This is a journey of a lifetime. And †Jesus is asking us in today’s Gospel – not to delay – to become part of His Mission – now! Don’t put off joining Him in this grand Mission. (Well – when I have more time – when I retire – when the kids are out of the house – when I’m not so busy with my grandkids.) He says: “Are you read to go now? Whatever holds us back from responding to His call will always limit our freedom – always; our freedom to proclaim the Good News with our lives. To be fit for the Kingdom means: “To let go – and let God” – to move forward with a passionate desire to lead others to †Jesus. Surrender to †Jesus now!
When saint surrender to †Jesus – they never consider going back to their old lives – never consider it. When we follow †Jesus – all the important things of life will fall into place. Recall what †Jesus said in The Sermon on the Mount: ‘Don’t worry about what you are to wear or what you are to eat. I will take care of that – the birds of the air, the lilies of the fields – look how glorious they are. If God takes care of them – don’t you think God will take care of us – too – even more so?
St. Paul writes: “Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery”. (Gal. 5:1) The Holy Spirit directs us to put †Jesus and His will first. And like the potential disciple in the Gospel – we are to give to †Jesus first – through our vocation (vocation to the married life – vocation to the priesthood) whatever it is.
Prepare for the coming of †Jesus – live in expectation of His coming – participate in His Mission – now – not later – because †Jesus is calling us to respond with compassion and forgiveness.
†Jesus wants us among His friends in the School of Holiness.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.