USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus saw a crowd around him,
he gave orders to cross to the other shore.
A scribe approached and said to him,
“Teacher, 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.”
Another of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead.”
Good News Reflection: Getting ridiculous with Jesus
If Jesus said to you, “Come follow Me into a life that’s very different from the one you have now”, what familiar comforts would you find hard to give up? What unfinished business would you want to accomplish first?
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking to those of us who want to follow him “but only if –.” Only if we have a comfortable place to sleep and an easy road to travel. Only if we control which duties to handle. Only if God doesn’t ask for much. Only if everything stays predictable and God’s plans are obvious. Only if it doesn’t interfere with what’s already in our plans.
Following Christ is rarely convenient and comfortable. In fact, it’s an up-stream swim that goes against the currents of normal life. At times, it even seems irresponsible! Why? Because God stretches us beyond our current limitations so that we can become ever more effective as apostles for his kingdom.
“Follow Me,” says Jesus. Do you want to have better relationships? Then go the extra mile. Do you want to find healing from the wounds that others have caused you? Then forgive over and over again until you’ve finally let go of the desire to see remorse and repentance. Do you want to find peace? Then surrender to God everything that you’re fighting for, and trust him to provide you with what you need when you need it, which is always better than the way you think you need it.
“Let the dead bury the dead” means that we should leave behind our lifeless, fruitless efforts in trying to solve problems the way unbelievers do. Those who do not give up everything to follow Christ should not be our examples, nor should we feel obligated to do what they say we should do. In Christ we become truly alive. But are we willing to do the ridiculous, what the world calls nonsense? Are we willing to take a left turn where the world posts a big sign that says “turn right”?
Every day, we face both little and large decisions about going left or going right. “I’ll follow you, Lord, but wait, not to there! You don’t really want me to do that ministry; I’m not good enough at it.” Or …. “I’ll follow you, Lord, but wait, not now! This isn’t the right time! I have other obligations. I’m too busy. And I can’t cook dinner for my sick neighbor until after we form a friendship, which by the way, Lord, I don’t have time for either.”
No matter how hard we try, we’ll never find the easy, comfortable life that we’re striving for, so why live in the illusion that it’s a worthwhile goal? Jesus says, “Come, let go of everything that holds you back from reaching your full potential in the kingdom of God. Be ridiculous and follow Me!”
Eternal Father: Today I decide to leave my past in Your hands. I don’t want to live looking backwards any more. Give me the grace to persevere faithfully, walking toward the goal You have for me today. Praised be to You, my Lord. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica