Daily Reflection – 6/28/2021
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8: 18-22)
Today’s Gospel has one of the Scribes speaking up and announcing his desire to follow Jesus. He is followed by one of the disciples saying he was ready to follow as well but first he had to attend to family matters.
Allow me to point out that, in the case of the disciple, there is nothing that says his father had already died. He wasn’t saying, “Jesus, my dad’s funeral is this afternoon. Let me go to the funeral and I’m catch up with you tonight.” His father seems to have been very much alive and he was saying to Jesus, “Jesus, my familial duties are more important than my following you. Let me fulfill those duties, then I can come and follow you to the beyond,” however long that may be.
That’s why Jesus responded as he did. Our task is to follow him who is the Source of Life and allow those who are drawing life from other sources to bury those who don’t have his life in them. We can’t really be his disciple unless we’re willing to follow him wherever he goes, unless we’re willing to relativize everything else — a home of our own, a bed, even our beloved family members, friends and careers — to be with Him wherever he is.
That thought is also present in his response to the scribe. But Jesus wanted him to grasp that his kingdom would not involve palaces and earthly power. As Messiah, Jesus wouldn’t even have a pillow to call his own, he wouldn’t even have what birds and foxes take for granted.
Was the scribe willing to sign up for that? Jesus leads us not so much to a place but to a union with him and we don’t know whether the scribe would unite himself to Jesus’ personification of the Messianic kingdom. We hope that he did, but the lesson for us is the same. Jesus asks us to go with him into the beyond, to follow him wherever he goes. But we need to be willing to center our life on him.
How can we give the Lord our unqualified “yes” to the call he has for our lives?
The Lord Jesus fills the hearts of those who accept his invitation of discipleship and friendship with the outpouring of his love into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). The love of God frees us from attachments to other things so we can give ourselves freely to God for his glory and for his kingdom. It was love that compelled the Lord Jesus to lay down his life for us. And he calls us in love to give our all for him.
Love is the music that Jesus commands us to play.
Following him in love can also be costly. We are living in a time when so many people are increasingly forgetting God. For many, our civil discourse has become angry and revengeful. For many, it comes from those who profess to be followers of Christ, be they lay or minister. How can one reconcile the language of love when the inner spirit is full of rancor, when the inner spirit is quick to condemn or discriminate, when the inner spirit is ready to rise up in judgment of others?
If we forget God, if we cease to walk in the “right way” he shows us, if we give ourselves over to injustice, to neglect of the poor, to a lack of discipline, to getting in with thieves and blasphemers, we’ll eventually suffer just as the Israelites did, not because God will cease to punish us but because an impious nation has no glue, a vicious people doesn’t have the virtue required to build something beautiful and defend itself.
“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Followers of the way understand that Jesus continues to teach us with the words of eternal life and love. He seeks to have us nest ourselves in him, resting our head on his breast. It’s here where we cease to be dead but men and women fully alive in him. It’s here where we’re strengthened to follow him beyond.
We ask him to give us all the grace he knows we need to follow him in the “right way” he shows us all the way through life and through death to the place where the martyrs and followers of Christ rejoice forever.
Prayer of The Day
Take, O Lord, and receive 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)
Detachment is a necessary step if we want to make the Lord our Treasure and Joy. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and to his service. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord. We cannot match 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 giving your all to the Lord?