JUNE 28. Ord. Time. B. Wk.13 Mon. Mt.8. 18-22
When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him, he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’
In this reading we see “great crowds” following Jesus, many of whom would have followed him out of curiosity, but when he gave orders to move away, to the other side one of the scribes came and addressed him as “Master”, and then gave an undertaking to “follow him” no matter what; - something Jesus would have been pleased to hear.
However, on hearing this determination to be a disciple Jesus knew there was a need to issue a warning; - as being a “follower” of Jesus was not a task to enter into lightly; - which was why he pointed out, while the animals all had places to live; - this was not how he and his followers lived, stating; - “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head!”
Given the large numbers of people following Jesus; - many because of his miracles and the way he had been able to feed large crowds; - it would have been very easy to decide to stay with Jesus and be a disciple; - so Christ warned that this is no easy task!
And even today, it is very easy to profess to be one of Christ’s “followers”; - but one of the reasons he has so few genuine disciples is many Christians do not understand the implications or what is demanded of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
His followers are called to imitate him, and to live as he lived, which meant it demanded true Love; - of both God and Neighbour; - together with a heart detached from the things of the world; - uncommon attributes as they require both humility and generous self-sacrifice!
These sentiments were clearly absent from the second person who claimed to be a disciple; - but who also made it clear he had family obligations he had to attend to, namely a relative’s funeral.
While Christ’s responses that he has “nowhere to lay his head”, and “follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead” may appear harsh they contain a critically important message for anyone who wants to be a disciple, namely, Christianity demands a radical commitment, and nothing must be allowed to take priority over “The Will of God” or “The things of heaven!”
This remains a major issue, even today, in that so many Christians allow “the things of earth” to take precedence over the demands of “the things of heaven”; - something Christ made very clear was not an option for those who want to be his genuine disciples.
Jesus bore witness to the radical commitment necessary in how he embraced his Passion and Death where; - motivated solely by Love of God and Love of sinners; - he put the Will of God before every other consideration; - sacrificing his life; - on a cross; - for sinners!
In the Gospels, and in his life, Christ is teaching what Love of God and Neighbour demand!
Gospel Acclamation cf.Ps94:8
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.