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The would-be followers of Jesus

Gospel Reading: Lk 9:57-62
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.”

The central term in this section is “follow” (vv 57, 59, 61). Like the threefold call of Elisha, the text makes this central point repeatedly, but with one key difference. What involved a threefold call to a single figure in the Old Testament (cf 2 Kgs 2:1-6) is a single call to three different figures in the New Testament. The three cases involve two where the disciple initiates the encounter (the first and the third) and one where Jesus does. But the point in each case is the same. In life, discipleship must come first. The first exchange begins with a confident statement by a man that he will follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus’ response brings to the fore the need for total dedication, especially since the Son of Man does not have a home. In the second case, a prospective follower wishes to bury his father before joining the group. Jesus’ response emphasizes that discipleship and one’s commitment to the Kingdom take priority even over family considerations. A similar request surfaces in the third encounter. Jesus replies that those who look back are not fit for the Kingdom. Jesus wants to make this truth clear from the start. Salvation is not a road paved with ease; true spirituality requires discipline.

“I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them” (St. Lorenzo Ruiz).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.