‘Follow Me’: Disciplines for Disciples
User’s Guide to the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, June 26, is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62.
Today’s Gospel portrays through the life of Jesus some important disciplines for disciples. Let’s look at them and see how to apply them to our lives today.
The text says, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him.” Note that Jesus was resolute. He was heading to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise; to undertake the great battle and the great mission entrusted to him. Everything he did was to be oriented toward this goal. What about us? Are we as determined to seek Christ and head for his kingdom? Is our direction clear? Our goal is to set our face like flint and pursue the Jerusalem of heaven.
The text says that the Samaritan village would not welcome him. James and John are angry and want to call down fire from heaven on that town. Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. Jesus rebukes their desire for retaliation and stays focused on his task. Rejected here, he moves forward. He does not let the devil distract him or his disciples from the task of proclaiming the word, whether in season or out of season, popular or unpopular, accepted or rejected. Keep preaching.
Do not give up; do not grow angry; just keep working. Leave judgment to God.
The text says, “As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’”
Will we follow Jesus even if worldly gain not only eludes us but is outright taken from us? Do you love the consolations of God or the God of all consolation? What if, in fact, being a disciple brings you ridicule, loss, prison or even death? Would you still follow him? Most of us have too much to lose and so we are not free; our discipleship is hindered. But poverty confers a kind of freedom since it is hard to intimidate a man who has nothing to lose.
The text says, “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.’” The Lord seems harsh here. However, note that the Greek text can be understood in the following way: “My Father is getting older. I want to wait until he dies and then I will really be able to follow you.” Jesus’ point is that if the man didn’t have this excuse, he would have some other one. He does not have a prompt or willing spirit. We can always find some reason that we can’t follow wholeheartedly today because we have to get a few things resolved first. Jesus is talking about the gift to run joyfully and without delay to what God promises.
The text says, “And another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
When we accepted Christ, we set our hand to the Gospel plow, heeding Christ’s call: “Follow me.”