The gospel reading for today speaks to us of discipleship. Many people in Galilee and Judea were captivated by Jesus and became his disciples. The disciples became devoted followers of Jesus. They accompanied him on his journeys throughout the countryside and towns of the land of Israel. In this gospel St. Luke gives us examples of the first contact Jesus made with some who wanted to be his disciples.
The first person has obviously been inspired by the preaching and teaching of Jesus. So much so that he makes what seems to me a rash statement. He declares that he wants to follow Jesus where ever he goes. Taken literally that declaration would be hard to keep. I would not think that any of the disciples followed Jesus everywhere he went. Even some of the apostles could not go with him during his passion. The answer of Jesus is interesting. I think that he is telling the man to be careful of what he wishes for. To follow Jesus will not be an easy thing. He will have to give up his previous life and rather focus his life entirely on Jesus.
Jesus himself initiates the contact with the next person. He asks the man to follow him. This man seems willing, but he requests time first to bury his father. Among both the Jews and Greeks it was considered a very important obligation for children to see to the burial of their parents. Jesus is telling him that he has an even greater obligation. Namely to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
The next person also wants to follow Jesus, but he too has something he wants to do first. The request to say goodbye to his family seems reasonable enough. It shows that the man realizes that he is going to have to leave his family permanently. But Jesus responds that it is dangerous to look back before coming to follow him. Perhaps he will be unable to carry out his plan when he is again with his family. Perhaps the delay will allow his desire to follow Jesus to leave him.
We don’t know whether any of these three actually did become a disciple of Jesus. But from this reading we learn that Jesus wanted them to be very aware of what it meant to become a disciple. He also wanted them to follow their desire to follow him immediately before anything could happen to change their mind. These are valuable lessons for us to learn in our desire to follow Jesus.
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