September 28, 2016
As Jesus and his disciples 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.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Man, the more you read the Bible, the more you realize there are a lot of hard teachings. It's almost as if Christ wants to radically change our lives. The temptation can be so strong to complain, to ask "why" in our whiny voice when we hear hard truths in Scripture, or maybe to just check out and not let the Word seep into our hearts, reconstituting our selfish nature into something more natural and less stony.
- Potential Explanation #1 for the hard truths in today's Gospel: Christ is looking out for us
Notice the final verse. We so easily hear it in a condescending tone, but in reality, it says nothing about Christ's desire to be with and in us. Instead, it comments on our "fitness" to follow, to give everything. If we are not willing to drop what we hold in our lives, even good things, at Jesus' beckoning, the road to Paradise is going to overwhelm us.
- Potential Explanation #2: An admonition against perfectionism
Now this may be a bit of a stretch, but perhaps the sin of the reluctant man is not incomplete willingness to obey, but perfectionism. It seems strange that Jesus would make an example of a man who wanted to do what seem to be some very reasonable things before leaving his home. Only Christ could know his heart, and perhaps the man felt overwhelmed at the thought of leaving the life he knows; he would only feel comfortable leaving after tying up loose ends.
- Potential Explanation #3: It's probably both #1 and #2, now that I think about it
Here's a secret that I'm still learning: When God issues us a call, He has already thought about the loose ends! Our Lord knows that our satisfaction comes from diving into Him, headfirst and ASAP. The longer we drag out our old habits, both good and bad, that are in the way of God's call for us, the longer we suffer. God is all-powerful, and that includes power over all facets of our lives as well.
Here's my advice to you, dear reader, taken directly from Fr. Mike Schmitz:
If you are wrestling with decisions, indecision, or feeling paralyzed by perfectionism, ACT. Take the next good step. Our God is a God of details, not just of big questions, so leave the little stuff to Him, too.
Praised be Jesus Christ, sovereign over all things, big and small.