June 25, 2019
One might expect that the Scripture Readings for the first Sunday of Summer would leave us with notions of rest and relaxation however, if we do expect this, we would be sadly disappointed. Quite the opposite! There are strong aspects of Paschal Mystery in today’s Gospel: Luke 9:51-62.
Jesus has “set his face towards Jerusalem”. This is code language for Jesus moving towards experiencing his Passion, Death and Resurrection! The brutality of the Cross is before him. He resolutely sets his face towards it and does not hesitate to embrace it. How often do we follow his example or do we find ourselves running the other way when the prospect of the Cross is before us? It is not easy to carry the Cross! It is not easy to “Die to Self”! It is not easy to Hope in the “Transforming Power of God’s Love”! However, this is the call of the Gospel. We foolishly think that we can run away from the Cross and that we can avoid it and that this will being us life. However, the reality is that the exact opposite is true. It is only in moving towards it that there is new life! That in embracing it that there is eternal life!
Then someone volunteers to follow Jesus and he is quick to point out that following him will involve great hardships! This will not be a vacation or a joy ride. If you want to follow me you have to “set your face towards Jerusalem” as well!
Then Jesus turns to some others and invites them to follow him and then the excuses start flowing – “The dog ate my homework!” I need to bury my father! I need to say goodbye to my family! Both noble endeavors, however, they do not have much gravitas for Jesus! There is a sense of urgency for him to proclaim the Kingdom of God! The time to respond to the invitation is not in September when things begin to ramp up again but the time to respond to the invitation of Jesus is now! What excuses do we use to but off the following of Jesus? What really important things take precedence over our proclamation of the Kingdom of God? Important questions to ask ourselves and to address in these hopefully long and Dog Days of Summer! Lest we miss the admonition of Jesus in the last line of the Gospel” “No one who put a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62