Year C: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 9: 51-62
The crucial word in today’s Gospel could perhaps be “resolutely”. This is how Luke describes Jesus setting out on the road to Jerusalem where his destiny is to be fulfilled in suffering, death and, ultimately, resurrection.
It is not a road easily followed - and we are not privy to the heart and soul-searching that must have gone into it on Jesus’ part. We do know, however, that his own resolve was something he knew would have to be matched by his disciples.
And so, when he is approached by a series of would-be disciples, he seems to be quite harsh with them. The first is confronted with the reality of the life itinerant preachers - a state of permanent restlessness -and rooflessness.
To our ears, it is, perhaps, his comment to the one who wishes first to bury his father - to leave the dead to bury the dead - which seems particularly hard. It may be that the father has recently died - but, if so, it is improbable that the son would be doing anything other than dealing with funeral arrangements and observing the strict seven days of mourning. It is more likely that he meant that he would wait until his father had died and he was free to come. This could be years hence - and Jesus was at pains to say that the spreading of Good News is urgent and should not wait.
Finally to the one who wanted to say goodbye - the challenge - put your hand to the plough and don’t look back.
Being a disciple of Jesus in our own day brings its own challenges - and our resolve can be sorely tested. Our reservations and temptations will be different from those of the people mentioned in today’s Gospel - but they are nonetheless real.
The challenge may to be to live without conventional security. A young person might feel that their parents would object to their going into religious life - and think it better to wait. Another might be asked to take up a parish ministry - but find all sorts of reasons for “not just now - let me just ... and then I will come”.
We can make our excuses seem reasonable - and sometimes they are.. The challenge is what do we do when they really are just that - excuses!
What does it mean for me?
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