Reading: Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22.
Good morning, Happy Monday, and many blessings my dear family.
Today’s gospel (Matthew 8:18-22) passage from Matthew is very similar to the gospel reading that we heard yesterday from Luke. Once again, people seem very enthusiastic about following Jesus “wherever he goes,” but they place conditions on their discipleship. The second person, in particular, places limits on when he will follow Jesus. He tells Jesus, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” Jesus responds, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
Jesus’ response to the man’s desire to bury his father may seem rather harsh. Was Jesus so coldhearted that he would not let a son bury his father? I think not. In all likelihood, the man’s father had not died yet. It seems that the man wanted to attend to his own business and had reservations about following Jesus. Instead of telling Jesus that he wanted to follow him but that he felt a little nervous about it, he said that he had other matters to which he needed to attend.
Discipleship requires extraordinary faith, trust, and commitment. What is the quality of my personal commitment to the Lord and his gospel? Lord Jesus, thank you for numbering me among your disciples today. Grant me all that I need to follow you closely and faithfully.
Jesus is making abundantly clear that the following of himself and of his cause is worlds away from, for instance, apprenticeship to or discipleship of a group like the Pharisees; the latter life-path might amount to little more than a quasi-professional niche in society as a teacher of the Law.
The following of Jesus and his teaching, by contrast may easily draw down opposition on disciples, causing them to be regarded as troublemakers and disturbers of the peace – and even as targets, if need be, for removal by violent means. His disciples, Jesus warned, must be ready- like himself- to have the cross (or execution-beam) loaded onto their shoulders.
How many times do we put our own agendas before God’s? What holds us back from following Jesus wholeheartedly? It is easy to make a list of all the things that we need to do. Do we put prayer on the top of the list?
Today, I invite you to spend 15-30 minutes in prayer. You may find a place to sit quietly, or you may walk and pray, or pray as you do artwork. Whatever you do and however you pray, take some time to listen to God’s call. To what is God calling you? As you spend some time in prayer, ask for the grace to respond to God’s call wholeheartedly and unreservedly.