DON’T SETTLE DOWN OR LOOK BACK
To follow Jesus is the heart of Christian life. What’s essential. Nothing more important or decisive. That’s exactly why Luke describes three small scenes for the communities that read his Gospel: they make us aware that in Jesus’ eyes nothing can be more urgent and irreplaceable.
Jesus employs hard and scandalous images. It’s clear that he wants to shake up our conscience. He doesn’t seek more followers, as much as followers who are more committed, who follow him unreservedly, renouncing false security and taking on necessary changes. His words plant deeply just one question: what relationship do we want to establish with him, we who claim to be his followers?
One of those who accompany him feels so drawn to Jesus that before he’s even called, he takes the initiative himself: «I will follow you wherever you go». Jesus makes him aware of what he’s saying: «Foxes have holes and the birds of the air their nests”, but he “has nowhere to lay his head».
To follow Jesus is a full-fledged adventure. He offers his own neither security nor well-being. He doesn’t help them make money or acquire power. To follow Jesus is «to live on the road», without settling down in well-being and without seeking false refuge in religion. A Church that is less powerful and more vulnerable isn’t a disgrace. It’s the best that can happen to us in order to purify our faith and trust more in Jesus.
Another is ready to follow him, but asks first to fulfill the sacred obligation of «burying his father». This couldn’t surprise any Jewish person, since it involves one of the most important religious obligations. Jesus’ response is unsettling: «Leave the dead to bury their dead: your duty is to go and spread the news of God’s Reign».
To open up paths to God’s Reign by working for a more human life is always the most urgent task. Nothing should affect our decision. No one must hold us back or stop us. The «dead», who don’t live at the service of the Reign of life, will already be dedicated to other religious obligations less valuable than God’s Reign and God’s justice.
To another person who wants to say goodbye to his family before following him, Jesus says: «Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for God’s Reign». It’s not possible to follow Jesus as we look back. It’s not possible to open up paths to God’s Reign staying in the past. To work on the Father’s project asks complete dedication, trust in God’s future, and boldness to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf