13th Sunday Ordinary Time | Year C
Luke 9: 51-62
As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.
As they travelled along they met a man in the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me,’ replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
One group of people, those in the Samaritan village, did not want Jesus in their midst. Another group wanted to follow him wherever he was going. Together these two groups of people tell us a lot about the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Jesus wanted to come to the people in the village where they were, in their homes and in their community. The potential followers wanted to leave their homes and villages to go with Jesus on his travels through the country.
For centuries people have left their homes to follow Jesus to other places; others have remained in one place with Jesus in their midst as they raised families and tended to others in their community. When Jesus deterred some of the people who proclaimed their desire to follow him as he travelled, perhaps he knew that they were among those who should stay in one place.
In practical terms, responsibilities to others or the exercise of particular talents may mean staying in one place. If we welcome him, Jesus is present in that place and with us at all times, in all that we do. Staying in one place is as much a potential route to holiness as going to other places “to spread the news of the kingdom of God”. Thinking that we can only grow in holiness or serve God fully in some other place and in some other way can create restlessness and interior disharmony. It may signal that there is something we would like to escape from rather than deal with. In these circumstances we may be disguising running away as following Jesus.
Sometimes Jesus does call us to leave where we are in order to follow him. Leaving situations of abuse, seeking an improved life, responding to the needs of others, “spreading the news of the kingdom of God” are examples of reasons why we might physically follow Jesus to another place. There will be a peacefulness about the decision-making which marks a true call to follow.
Even if we are physically staying in one place, we follow Jesus as surely as the disciples did when we make a choice to do the ordinary – and extraordinary – things in our lives in his way, each day.