By Tom Quiner
Get a load of the gospel reading for this weekend (from the Catholic lectionary, Luke 9:51-62). I bolded the provocative sentences from the reading:
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.”
Wow! The bolded sentences are proof of the callousness of this guy Jesus, don’t you think? What kind of man won’t even let someone bury his dad? I’ve buried my dad, and let me tell you, it’s a big deal.
On the other hand, perhaps we should slow down and reflect on what is really happening here.
Jesus is making a vitally important, if politically-incorrect point: the ways of the world should never take precedence over the ways of heaven. Our relationship with Christ trumps earthly considerations. And time is of the essence. If you put off following the Lord today, you may not have a tomorrow.
This reading makes it clear that Jesus is en route to Jerusalem. He’s going to be hanging on a cross within a week.
Keep in mind, Jesus and His entourage have just passed near Samaria, which is only some thirty miles from Jerusalem. That means they could be in Jerusalem as soon as ten to fifteen hours on foot.
So when a man says “Lord, let me go first and bury my father”, Jesus knows the guy is going to miss out in witnessing the divine. He might even suspect this guy is making an excuse.
We don’t even know for a fact that this guy’s dad was dead. Maybe his father was very old. Maybe he meant, ‘let me wait until my dad passes before I embark on this mission.’
We don’t know for sure.
But Jesus knows that the salvation of souls is THE most important thing in this world. Time is of the essence.
Don’t look back, Jesus, tells us, at a world that will pass away.
Rather, look forward to the heavenly kingdom that is our true home, where we will be reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ.