Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wherever you go??? What???

"I will follow you wherever you go."
Luke 9:57 - 62

Orators and writers often remind us that care must be taken when using two particular and opposite words: always and never. One of the disciples, speaking to Jesus, uses a similar kind of word: wherever. To pledge almost carelessly to follow someone wherever the journey may lead is a dangerous first step.

Jesus seems to be mindful of the challenges such a statement would bring. He responds to the statement with another statement: the Son of Man "has nowhere to lay his head." His is a warning to all who want to follow him: take care because following me will not be easy. He did say "Follow me," testing the small band, a "mix 'em gather 'em" group attracted by his mission and personality.

Another asked if he could be temporarily excused in order to bury his father. Then with the suddenness and surprise of a boulder landing squarely in front of of him, the disciple hears the normally supportive Jesus reply. "Let the dead bury the dead." Wow! Was he tired of apostle-questions? What was the message he was trying to teach?

Think about Jesus' status at the time. The Son of God heard his Father say, "And, oh yes, it will also mean that there will be suffering, intense suffering, even death, a tortuous death." Did Jesus say in reply, "Can't I just do everything you ask but that?" What you are asking is painful, not easy. As Paul Harvey would now say, "We know the rest of the story." Never a thought given to stepping aside for a short time or seeking a change in plans.

This is what Jesus was teaching: to be a close follower demands complete focus, maximal attention, to the life he asks of his followers. "Follow me wherever I go???" Are you sure you can accept and live out his invitation? You must be strong. But I will always be with you.

How would you respond to such an invitation? How have you responded to his invitation that was given to you at your Baptism and renewed each time you have received the Eucharist? Stop for just a moment or two and consider all the particular invites you have received: daily prayer? fidelity in your state of life? Sunday obligation? Sacrament of Reconciliation? Care for those entrusted to you at home, in your families, your employees or colleagues? Single-minded purpose?