Print Version    Email to Friend
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Nothing should stop us following Christ

In the gospel today, Jesus resolutely journeys to Jerusalem where crucifixion and death await him. He, like the suffering servant of Yahweh, takes on the pain, for he knows, that is the way the love of the Father is to be manifested.  
 
Incidents on the way help Luke to respond to the questions raised by the Christians of his community: how should they react with those who are obstructing their journey, those who oppose the way? To those who ask to join them along the way must they immediately and clearly say what the conditions are, or is it better to soften or tone down the demands of Christian life?
 
The opposition of the Samaritans represents the hostility that Christian communities of every age must face. 
 
In the world there is always someone that stands in the way. John and James wanted to bring fire on them. They remember that the prophet Elijah made fire from heaven rain down upon the wicked of his time. 
 
The Baptist too threatened with fire. For this reason they feel that the time has come to resort to tough tactics. Jesus rebuked them firmly. They had made an insane proposal!
 
The disciple is not called to fight against anybody. He has not received the task of unleashing holy wars. Christians cannot respond with aggression, but only with love.
 
If someone attacks them using lies, deception or violence, they can only respond by invoking upon them the blessing of God.
 
Next, a stranger approaches Jesus and expresses his desire to follow him wherever he goes. The Master’s reply seems destined to discourage rather than to convince the would-be disciple. Jesus says that anyone who wants to go with him should not dream of a comfortable life.
 
Along the way, Jesus meets another man and invites him to follow him.
 
This one says he is willing, but asks first to bury his parents. Jesus replied: “Let the dead bury their dead; leave them and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 
 
To a Jew, this is most outrageous. Even the high priest—who was prohibited from entering a cemetery or even approaching a corpse—was required to accompany his parents to the tomb.
Not even the most sacred sentiments, such as those that bind children to their parents, can be placed in between and obstruct the decision to follow him.
 
A third man comes to Jesus. “Follow me,” Jesus demands in the imperative.
 
“I will follow you, but….” This man is willing to follow Jesus, but wants to go first to say goodbye to his family, just as Elisha did. Apparently he is not asking too much. Yet Jesus does not allow this either. 
 
Luke uses these vocation stories to remind us that there cannot be delays, uncertainties; ifs or buts; nothing justifies a delay.    
 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
   Claretian Publications
bibleclaret.org
 
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Thomas Thennedyil CMF