(Submitted by me for today’s bulletin as a member of my parish’s Spiritual Life Committee.)
In today’s gospel reading (Lk 9:51-62) Jesus utters words meant not only for His hearers on the way to Jerusalem but for all generations: “Follow me.”
What does this entail? As we read on in the passage from Luke, Jesus wants no hesitation to this call. Worldly obligations are not to get in the way of our following the Lord. Throughout the ages persons have been, and continue to be, called by the Lord to do this radically. In the first reading, Elisha takes up Elijah’s prophetic mantle, only hesitating long enough to perform one last act of charity for his people at home and in so doing breaking ties with his former life by destroying his farming equipment; he shows that he is “all in” for God. He puts into action the words from the Responsorial Psalm: “I set the LORD ever before me.” Today, as in ages past, there are those who are called to dedicate their lives to God in a special way by embracing ordained or consecrated life, especially those in a cloister or those doing foreign mission work, where contact with family may be very limited.
But each of us is called to live radically this gospel message. This does not mean that we forsake the duties inherent to our state in life. We are to take seriously our family obligations: parents to children, children to parents, husbands to wives, and wives to husbands. More broadly, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, as Paul, quoting the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18) and the New Testament (Matthew 22:39), tells us in today’s second reading. Yet we must do all this keeping in mind the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The Holy Family is the ultimate example of a household in right relationship with God, each other, and everyone else.
What else does Jesus ask of us here? “You, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This, again, is a duty for each one of us. It is not a task set aside for clergy and religious only. Through our words and our deeds we are to make Christ present to everyone we encounter.
Is there anything holding you back from following Jesus wholeheartedly?