JUNE 28. Ord. Time. B. Wk.13 Mon. Mt.8. 18-22
Updated: Sep 10
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.
First reading Genesis 18:16-33 · Abraham negotiates with the Lord
From Mamre the men set out and arrived within sight of Sodom, with Abraham accompanying them to show them the way. Now the Lord had wondered, ‘Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am going to do, seeing that Abraham will become a great nation with all the nations of the earth blessing themselves by him? For I have singled him out to command his sons and his household after him to maintain the way of the Lord by just and upright living. In this way the Lord will carry out for Abraham what he has promised him.’
Then the Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’
The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ The Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’
Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’
Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’
When he had finished talking to Abraham the Lord went away, and Abraham returned home.