Gospel – Luke 9:51-62
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.As they 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.”
To him 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.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
“When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled…” Here are the framing words of this gospel passage. By this statement all that follows can be more correctly appreciated. The fulfillment of the days that lead to the “taking up of Jesus” refer to the time given by Divine Providence in which Christ is made ready for his self-offering prayer to God, his Father. The taking up, or lifting up, or raising up of Jesus refers both to the movements of his body through history and to the expression of his prayer in eternity. His body is lifted up on a cross, it is raised up from the dead, or it is taken up into his father’s embrace at the ascension. Likewise, when Jesus prays in the ultimate fulfillment of his life’s mission, he lifts up his eyes to heaven, he raises his voice to God on behalf of all humanity, and he takes up into his body and soul, the sins of his disciples and the sorrows of the world.
Jesus elevates the bread and the chalice in the midst of the apostles, in that Upper Room so aptly designated. Intimately bound to this elevation is his carrying of the Cross, up the road, to the hill of Calvary, the escarpment of Golgotha. Indeed, Jesus has even made a literal ascent in elevation by his journeying from the Sea of Galilee toward Jerusalem. These are the lofty events to which the Gospel refers; and by them is the spectacle better given of the radical descent of the Son of Man, by love, into the death-bound tragedy of fallen humanity. The “fulfillment of the days of the lifting up of Jesus” then are at the same time his personal preparation to be brought low, taken down, buried, and even to descend down into the furthest limits of death.
It is no wonder then, when faced with the worries of others Jesus reminds them of the primacy of his own mission. There is no time to “bury the dead” or say “farewell to family.” The importance and immediacy of Jesus’ ascent is of cosmic proportions. He is ascending to the father, and with him he brings all the struggles of death, burdens of family life, and divisions of religion between Jews and Samaritans, or Christians and Muslims. Let us remember this day to walk along with Jesus as he ascends to his mission in Jerusalem, our salvation, and unification.
Mr. John Allen
Central Catholic High School – Pittsburgh, PA
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.