Gospel: Lk 9:57-62
As they went on their way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
To another, Jesus said, “Follow me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Another said to him, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”
In today’s gospel reading Jesus seems to be positively discouraging eager would-be disciples from becoming full-fledged disciples. But is that really the case? It seems not. It seems he is merely warning those starry-eyes idealists that following him entails detachment from body comforts, availability and wholehearted commitment. This is illustrated in the case of the three “volunteers” featured in this passage.
The first one lacks realism. He seems not to be aware that following Jesus means leaving behind one’s comfort zone and facing uncomfortable situations. Jesus reminds him that he, Jesus, is homeless.
The second wants to delay following Jesus until his old father dies. Jesus refuses any such delay. The Kingdom of God cannot wait.
The third one is looking back in the direction of his family. Jesus tells him that the time has come to look forward instead, like a good plower who, because of the hardness of the Palestinian soil, has to put his full weight to hold down the plow. With Jesus, half-measures will not do.
In our own lives, can we meet Jesus’ tough requirements? Are we held back by our body comforts or our family ties?