Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
There are so many pearls of wisdom in today’s readings!
In verses 37 to 45, we have a quick lesson about “mountain top” experiences. Yesterday, we encountered Jesus in his Transfiguration, through which Peter, James and John experienced the glory of God and “how good it is” to rest in God’s glory. Our experiences of prayer, especially those while before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, or at Mass, leave us with a sense all is right with the world. But we re-enter the world from that experience, just as Jesus and his close inner-circle experience coming down the mountain into the chaos of our reality. Through this, Jesus manifests order and peace. Where there is Jesus, there is the peace of the Transfiguration. But Jesus does not rest in the glory of who he is; he immediately points to his mission of the Cross. He reminds his disciples that his mission is one of sacrifice, not of glory – not yet.
In verses 49 to 56, we receive an important lesson about tolerance. Someone is casting out demons but is not in their company. We tend to be like John, seeing this as competition, but Jesus would permit it, seeing it as something still bringing about the kingdom of God. The lesson of tolerance continues as they journey through Samaria – a hostile land for the Jews to journey through. Why did Jesus choose that way? Jesus is Peace. He goes to extend peace to all, knowing he will not be received well, yet, he still cannot not avail himself to those who do not understand. He is for everyone, and goes at length to include all in his salvific mission and message of love.
When Abraham Lincoln was criticized as being too nice to his enemies, he said: “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” His message was one of Gospel importance. We must hope that as we reach out to those with differences that we may regain our fraternal friendship with them. This is a challenging message for our time when we see the struggle in our day with the questions about refugees and continued racial tensions.
Lastly, Jesus challenges us to consider our commitment as followers. He has the following advice for us:
- Count the cost of your discipleship. True discipleship costs a great deal. It is not an easy road. That is why so many of our young people leave the Church in their first years of college. They are given the impression that church membership need not make a difference; yet, in truth, discipleship – real followers of Jesus – make all the difference and shape the world.
- There is a moment in our lives when we must make a firm choice for Christ. Jesus was not being cruel in telling the man to let the dead bury the dead. The man most likely meant, “I will follow you, but not yet.” We often put aside or postpone the good stirrings of our heart. Jesus is telling us, that if we do not act now, in likelihood, we will never act. Let us be attentive to the stirrings of our heart – of the Spirit – to respond to God’s promptings.
- Have you ever tried to walk in a straight line, with your head turned back? We cannot walk fully toward Christ, with our hearts in the past. This disposition keeps us reaching out to the distractions of ‘other opportunities’ rather than being fully given to Christ. He does not accept a half-follower; He desires all or nothing.
Lord, help us today to be mindful of our call to follow you whole-heartedly. Whatever keeps us from that service which is You, open our eyes and our hearts to see what we must lay down at Your feet in order to be firm in our discipleship. In Your most Holy Name, amen.