Wednesday, September 30, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Holy Gospel: Luke 9:57-62 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.”
Meditation: Today Jesus asks us a question that each of us must answer: Are you ready to follow Jesus wherever he may lead you, when and how he asks you? With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice – the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man’s heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back. Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, each of us, nonetheless, must be willing to separate ourselves with anything that might stand in the way of doing God’s will, in addition to doing it right then and there – not when it might be “convenient” for us.
Prayer: O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord. Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely. What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing his field caused the line he cut into the soil to become crooked. One crooked line easily leads to another until the whole field is a mess. The plowman had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course. Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord – whether that be some sort of distraction, attachment, or sinful habit which leads us away from doing God’s will – our path will likely diverge and we will miss what God has for us. Notice how the Gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples. We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well: Are you ready to take the path which the Lord Jesus offers? Remember, the Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of lasting peace, unending joy, surpassing love, enduring friendship, and abundant life. Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for your life? If so, rid yourself of it so that you can experience a life in Christ to the fullest.