Just prior to today’s Gospel Jesus set himself to travel to Jerusalem. The Samaritans refusal of hospitality was an enormous insult. The Sons of Zebedee, reminiscent of Elijah, asked if Jesus wanted them to order fire to fall from heaven and destroy them (Luke 9:54, see 2 Kings 1:10). Jesus rebuked them!
Someone said “I will follow you wherever you go”. Jesus warned, the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head. Jesus was saying, “My way is not an easy one. I have no frills, no security, no stability…”
Another one whom Jesus called asked, Let me go first and bury my father. This was his strict duty according to the Torah but Jesus said, Let the dead bury their dead. But You, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God! (Perhaps Jesus is referring to the spiritually dead who refuse to hear his message.)
Another said, I will follow you… but first let me say farewell. Jesus responded: No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God, an obvious reference to the Prophet Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:19-21).
Luke is clearly presenting Jesus as a prophet whose disciples must take the same risks he takes. Their lives will not be easy. They will be taunted, rejected, homeless. They need to leave their allegiances to those who distract them from Jesus’ and go preach to those who will be open to his invitation. They must be single minded in their following of Jesus.
What does this mean to us today? There is a difference between claiming to be a disciple and being a disciple between saying “I will follow” and actually following; between claiming to be a Christian/a Catholic and being one.
We are not sent to call down fire on others! We are called to go where Jesus has gone, spending ourselves for others, accepting inconvenience and difficulties on behalf of the mission, focusing our energy on our relationship with Christ and with those to whom he sends us. If we are caught up primarily in our self centered desires we may find ourselves unfit for the Kingdom.
- Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”. www.bishopmolloy.org