Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Being a Christian can be difficult. Its difficulty rests in its demand of us: it demands everything. Consider today’s Gospel—Jesus is personally inviting various people, “please, follow me.” In this invitation, Jesus calls them to be dedicated disciples who will proclaim him as Lord and Messiah, the coming of the Kingdom, and the new law of love. Yet, in each of these invitations, there is a great amount of hesitancy—please, let me bury my father and say goodbye to my family first. Each time Jesus rebukes them for their unwillingness to surrender everything to him.
Let’s back up for a moment and clarify something. Jesus is not saying that burying the dead is unimportant—it is a corporal work of mercy, something we are called to do in obedience. Nor is Jesus saying that the family is insignificant. He loves his mother and upholds traditional family values and the commandment to honor your father and mother. So, what is going on with what Jesus is saying?
Jesus is trying to shock his listeners and followers, and it works. He is saying, first of all, that his life is 100-percent dedicated to his mission of saving humanity—he lets go of all concern for himself; he has no home, no bed, and he lets go of his position of power so that we may have eternal life. Because of that, he is saying, with a dramatic gesture, that if we follow him, that same level of dedication must be given. Our entire lives are called to be a follower of Christ, where we let go of all concern for ourselves, dedicated to the service of others for the sake of God.
Jesus will call us in various ways to do this. Some he will call to married life where each person is dedicated to God in the service of their families. Some he will call to the priesthood, where the priest will be devoted to God in the service of the parish. Others to religious life, others to various forms of service. In whatever vocation God has called you to, he is demanding 100-percent dedication for the sake of others and not for the self.
The Christian life is difficult because it demands everything from us. However, if we are determined to give everything to God, we will be rewarded with peace, joy, and everlasting life.
Reflection by Fr. Etienne Huard, OSB