Gospel – Luke 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
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.
The story is told of three apprentice devils about to take their final exam before Satan. He asks each of them a simple question, what will you tell people up there on earth to get them to join us down here below. The first replies, “Master, I will tell them that there is no God.” Satan dismisses the answer by saying, “Anyone who has climbed a mountain top to see a sunset or walked along the ocean in the early morning to see a sun rise, knows that there is some ‘more’ out there. Maybe people don’t believe that God cares but most of them would accept that God exists. No, you fail.” The second apprentice comes forth and proposes that “there is no hell”. Again, Satan shakes his head and says: “People might not be sure there is a heaven, but they surely know there is a hell — because if they live long enough they’ve already experienced at least a bit it. No, you too fail.” That brings up the third would-be tempter who simply says: “I would tell them there is no hurry”. Satan smiles, since he knows that putting off till tomorrow is the most appealing of temptations. The student graduates magna cum laude.
The teaching is clear, and it is offered twice in today’s readings. Both the call of Elisha and the Lord’s call to potential disciples insist on a sense of “urgency”. The call, be it the first time we hear God’s voice or its reiteration every day of our lives, is always a call in the “now”. It is not enough to have good intentions or “the best of plans”. Discipleship is an imperative that requires an attentiveness to the present moment, here and now.
To give just one example of the “urgency” around us. There are thousands of immigrant families who are simply put in holding camps every week, and there are still children separated from their parents. Yes, we can pray for them and so we must. But, that is the “fifth suggestion” from the group called CLINIC (the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.) Take a few moments to google the acronym and explore the other four: Educate yourself and keep informed, Contact your representative and demand both oversight and a plan to reunite these
families, Financially support organizations committed to this work and Take the time to find immigrants in your own neighborhood who need your help. A word about the third of today’s readings: the passage from Galatians which talks about “freedom”. In our culture, we usually tend to see freedom in terms of “freedom from”. That’s
not a bad perspective. Indeed, it can be quite noble, like a commitment to work for the peoples of this world to be free from religious persecution. However, our culture also spends a lot of energy in the demand for “freedom from restraint” — be it adolescents complaining about their parents’ onerous rules or citizens disgruntled by regulations from some government bureaucracy .The point is that in such a perspective, we can forget about “freedom for”. We seek to be unrestrained “so that we can do what?” Paul gives a simple answer: “To love your
neighbor as yourself”. To see what that love looks like, we will soon move from the Book to the Table. There the bread will be broken and the wine poured out. It is a sacrament, a sign, a glimpse of something more,
ultimately a call to break ourselves open and pour ourselves out — that the Kingdom might come, just a little more, this very day.
Joseph Serano, O.Praem., received his doctorate of sacred theology from Catholic University and has
served as Director of the Institute for Religion and Culture of Daylesford Abbey, Paoli PA.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.