Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel (cf. Lk 9: -51 – 62), Saint Luke begins the story of Jesus ‘ last journey to Jerusalem, which will end at chapter 19. It’s a long march not only spiritually, theologically and in geographical space, towards the fulfilment of the mission of the Messiah. The decision of Jesus is radical and total, and those who follow him are called to grapple with it. Today the evangelist presents us with the three people – three cases of vocation, we might say – which highlights what is required of those who want to follow Jesus all the way to the end.
The first character promises: “I will follow you wherever you go” (v. 57). Generous! But Jesus replies that the son of man, unlike the foxes that have dens and birds have nests, “has nowhere to lay his head “(v. 58). The absolute poverty of Jesus. Jesus, in fact, left the family home and has renounced all security to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the lost sheep, His people. So Jesus showed us his disciples that our mission in the world cannot be static, but that of travelling form place to place to preach the good news. The Christian is a travelling exhibition. The Church by its nature is in motion, it is not sedentary and quiet in it’s own enclosure. Is open to the widest horizons. Sent-the Church is sent! -to bring the Gospel to the streets and reach the human existential suburbs. This is the first person.
The second character that Jesus meets receives the call directly from Him, however replies: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (see para. 59). It is a legitimate request, based on the commandment to honour your father and mother (cf. Es 20.12). However, Jesus replies, “let the dead bury their dead” (see para. 60). With these words, deliberately provocative, he intends to assert the primacy of discipleship and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, even on the most important, such as the family. The urgency to announce the Gospel, that breaks the chain of death and inaugurates eternal life, does not admit delays, but it requires readiness and availability. Therefore, the Church is itinerant, and the Church is decided, it acts quickly, on time, without waiting.
The third character wants to follow Jesus but on one condition: he will do so after going to take leave from his relatives. And the master says : “no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (see para. 62). The following of Jesus excludes regrets and backward looks, it requires the virtue of decision.
The Church, following Jesus, is itinerant, acts immediately, quickly, and is determined. The value of these conditions imposed by Jesus – itinerancy, promptitude and decision – don’t come from a number of “no’s” to good things and important things in life. Rather, emphasis should be placed on the main goal: to become a disciple of Christ! A free and informed choice, made for love, to respond to the priceless grace of God, and not done as a way to promote oneself. It’s sad that! Woe to those who think to follow Jesus is a way to help to promote themselves, i.e. to get ahead, to feel important or acquire a place of prestige. Jesus wants us to be passionate about Him and the Gospel. A passion of the heart which translates into concrete acts of proximity, closeness to the neediest brothers , and gestures of care. Just as He himself lived.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, icon of the Church on the move, help us to follow the Lord Jesus with joy and to announce the good news of salvation to others with renewed love.