Nehemiah 2:1-8Ps 137:1-6Luke 9:57-62www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100417.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/17_10_04.mp3
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
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.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Good News Reflection: When prioritizing means change
We all have good reasons for not following Jesus all the way all the time. The man in the Gospel reading today, who wanted to first bury his dad, seems to have his priorities right. After all, he was obeying the commandment to honor his parents. However, we don’t know if his father was even dead yet.
Jesus knew that the man was just making excuses. He was procrastinating on his personal decision to change his life and become a follower of Christ.
The guy who wanted to go back home to say goodbye seems to be someone who had a strong sense of responsibility. He knew it was wrong to abandon his family. After all, he couldn’t call them on the phone to let them know that he was safe and that he was not forgetting about their needs. But Jesus knew that this man felt torn between the life he had left behind and his life as a disciple; having a divided mind would make him an ineffective Christian.
The past can be a powerful master of the heart, but only God should be the master we serve.
All of our reasons for not fully committing to a direction or a service that Jesus is asking of us could be very good reasons. They can seem very logical and even holy. But if they are excuses instead of blind trust in following Christ, and if they are rationalizations for taking an easier path or remaining in a lifestyle that’s comfortable and familiar, we are choosing death over life. We are the dead burying the dead.
The people in this Gospel story had excellent excuses. We can even say that until Jesus called them to follow him, they were doing exactly what God wanted them to do. Why would he change his almighty mind? Their “yes, but wait” seemed legitimate.
Following Christ is never a static position. It’s an adventure that changes as soon as we get comfortable. God calls us away from doing one good thing to do a different good thing. The hard part is recognizing when it’s time to let go of the old to start something new, especially when it makes perfect sense to keep on doing what we’ve been doing, and even more especially when no one else can do it quite as well as we can.
Should we answer the pastor’s call for more liturgical readers, even though it means switching our schedule to a different Mass? Should we reach out to that person who could become a new friend, even though we’d have to sacrifice time that we’d normally spend with old friends? Should we turn our ministries over to someone else so that we can fill a need elsewhere?
You and I really do want to do what Jesus asks of us. If we truly trust him, we truly want to follow him wherever he leads. Choosing the right priorities is not our problem; our struggle is with recognizing the surprise changes in God’s plans.
After that, it’s a matter of moving forward in the new direction while trusting that if we’ve misinterpreted God’s plans, he will make sure we don’t go far in the wrong direction.
Instead of wishing that life could be predictable, we need to focus on what Jesus wants us to do today. How does he want you to follow him right now? Be content with whatever you’re doing but be ready for God to design another curve in your path.
If you need help getting through this struggle to move in the right direction, my e-book “Knowing God’s Will and Doing It Well” could help. It’s available at Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com/ebooks/GodsWill.htm.
Give me, Lord, strength, courage and detachment to follow Your paths in every circumstance. I give You my past, what I am and what I have. Thank You for calling me to a new life. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica