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.” (Luke 9: 57-62)
I doubt that any group would use the words and scenes from today’s Gospel as a recruitment poster. The words seem harsh, the vignettes seem too challenging But the sentiment that pervades the message is absolutely accurate and it challenges each of us to measure our faith against the standards of Jesus Christ.
In each of the three examples that Jesus offers there is an absolute need for spiritual detachment in order to truly be a follower of Christ. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God’s will. We must truly stop and question whether we are prepared to be His follower. If there are things of this world that mean more then the answer is simple – those are the things that mean more to us than a commitment to follow Jesus.
The umbrella truth about discipleship is that being a Christian and a disciple of Jesus gives us a whole new identity. We are no longer simply a biological unit on this earth, but a child of the God of the whole universe. We now live knowing that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Because our lives are now measured by eternal things, we are “exiles and aliens” in this world (1Peter 2:11).
Jesus is also reminding His followers to count the cost before he signs up. “If you follow me, you’ll have a stone for a pillow and not much more. We’ll get up each day not knowing where our food will come from. If you stay with me long enough, you’ll run into some big-time trouble. There are some powerful people who wish I was dead. Sooner or later, they’re going to kill me. The road ahead is hard and the worst is yet to come. If you follow me, you’re going to give up all your earthly security and trust me to take care of you. Are you in or out?”
That question Jesus intends for us as well. Are you ready to walk the path Jesus offers? His grace is sufficient and his love is strong. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot outgive God in generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake “will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for your life?
Prayer of The Day
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace — with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more.” (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556)
Little did the disciples know that day that they would soon become nomads on this earth, travelling all over, with no fixed home, living in often frightening and hostile circumstances, as followers of their Lord. But they — and we — were also pilgrims, because pilgrims do have a final destination, namely in eternity with God.