HOW TO FOLLOW JESUS
Jesus resolutely sets off toward Jerusalem. He knows the danger that he runs in the capital, but nothing will hold him back. His life has just one objective: announce and advance the project of the Reign of God. The departure starts off badly: the Samaritans reject him. He’s used to that: the same thing had happened to him in his own town of Nazareth.
Jesus knows that it isn’t easy to journey with him in his life as an itinerate prophet. He can’t offer his followers the security and the prestige that the teachers of the law can promise their disciples. Jesus doesn’t deceive anyone. Whoever wants to follow him will have to learn to live as he does.
While they continue on their journey, a stranger comes up to him. He seems to be full of enthusiasm: «I will follow you wherever you go». Above all, Jesus makes him see that from Jesus he can’t hope for security, or profit, or wellbeing. Jesus himself «has nowhere to lay his head». He has no house, he eats what is given him, he sleeps where he can.
We shouldn’t fool ourselves. The great obstacle that holds back many of us Christians from truly following Jesus today is the wellbeing in which we have set our lives. We’re afraid to take Jesus seriously because we know that he demands that we live with more generosity, with more solidarity. We are slaves of our little wellbeing. Maybe the economic crises can make us more human and more Christian.
Another asks of Jesus that he let him go to bury his father before joining Jesus. Jesus answers him with a play on words that is provocative and enigmatic: «Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God». These harsh words call into question our conventional way of life.
We have to broaden the horizon we move in. The family isn’t everything. There’s something more important. If we decide to follow Jesus, we need to think also about the human family: no one should have to live without home, country, papers, rights. All can do something more for a more just and fraternal world.
Another is ready to follow him, but first wants to say good-bye to his family. Jesus surprises him with these words: «Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God». To collaborate in Jesus’ project demands complete dedication, looking ahead without losing focus, walking toward the future without locking ourselves in the past.
Pope Francis has warned us of something that is happening today in the Church: «We are afraid that God is carrying us on new paths, casting us out of our horizons that are all too often limited, closed and selfish, in order to open us to God’s own horizons».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf