Our Gospel reading tells of the failures of three would-be followers of Jesus. We have three snapshots of individuals wanting to follow Jesus. We do not know their names but that’s not really important because Jesus’ words are not only addressed to them, but to us aswell. It’s all about discipleship, what ‘following the Lord’ really means.
We are followers of Jesus. That’s why we are here in Church today. But in each life, there comes special moments when the Lord calls us to deeper, more targeted discipleship. When He calls is for a special mission to a person or cause.
The first individual says to the Lord enthusiastically: “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus reminds him of the material cost and the spiritual cost of following Christ: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” It’s very easy for us to dream beautiful dreams, it is something else to make them come true. So often there are people who want a strong and vibrant Church but don’t want to take the time to get involved. Who want a Church with great singing but don’t want to sing, who want a Church with the community but don’t want to give time to volunteer, who want a Church to sponsor many outreach programmes but don’t want to support that effort.
Discipleship means not just enthusiasm, but concrete commitment.
What are the sacrifices that we are willing to make for the kingdom? Is it a dream world that we expect only others to bring about? That we pray the Lord will impose from heaven? Or is it something we try to build every day?
It is a constant temptation to look for spirituality without sacrifice, peace without patience, to engage in payers for others to change while we remain the same. What is the sacrifice we are willing to make for the kingdom? Without the decision to change on our part, we are living in a spiritual fantasy land.
The second person (“Let me bury my father first”), represents the temptation to follow Christ someday when family obligations are complete, to follow Christ tomorrow.
To follow Jesus sometime in the future, is not to follow Him at all because the world will never be perfect, the setting will never be exactly right. Jesus calls us to follow him now.
The last temptation is to keep looking back from the plough! Looking back means we are half-hearted in our commitment. It can also mean that we excuse our lack of full commitment because of something in the past, what we have done in the past or what others have done to us.
Whatever our past, the Lord calls us to follow Him as we are. We all have had the experience of receiving a gift or benefit from a person and being moved to write a letter or thanks or email that we postpone. It probably never is written. The same happens with moments of special Grace. We can avoid them by dreaming of following in some indefinite future. We can evade the call by waiting for the right time. We can evade the answering by looking for reasons in the past.
There is a special call from the Lord to each one of us. Will we follow?