The Catholic Defender: The Would Be Followers Of Jesus
July 20, 2019
"As they (Jesus and His Apostles) were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62)
Jesus was walking with His Apostles when He was approached by three would be followers and because Jesus is calling for a deeper commitment, it was hard for them to understand. There was a scene in the Old Testament with a similar question asked of the Prophet Elijah:
"Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,and I will follow you.”Elijah answered, “Go back!Have I done anything to you? ”Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat.Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant."
Notice the first potential follower seeking Jesus, he tells Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus response is interesting, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
Jesus knew the heart of the person making such a pledge. Sometimes someone might have a good intent, but perhaps they are not spiritually prepared to make such a pledge. Perhaps the Lord recognized in this first person that he was not ready to give up everything. That following Jesus would not be easy, it would not always be what people perceive in being popular.
The second potential follower of Jesus actually reached out to him, "Follow me." But he replied to Jesus, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Notice how different Jesus respond to this young man was compared to Elijah's response was to Elisha? Jesus is the Messiah and his beckoning and calling is placing God first and everything else will fall into place. The Apostles Peter, James, and John dropped their nets to follow Jesus. They had that kind of trust in the Lord. This second would be follower was called to follow Jesus, but he lost the opportunity to serve Him as one of Jesus inner circle, one of His Apostles. Many are called but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)
The third potential follower of Jesus asked Him, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." This request at first glance might seem very reasonable, but Jesus is looking for men and women who will give 100%. To this third person, Jesus exclaimed, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." Obviously, this person was not ready to place his concerns and trust with Jesus who will take care of His people. To be called by Jesus is a special invitation. The three would be followers placed self interest before following Jesus and so they did not serve Jesus as His Apostles which was the Lord's calling.
We all have a calling to serve the Lord where ever we are planted. Some will receive that higher calling to serve Jesus as a religious. St. Peter told Jesus, "Lo, we have left our homes and followed you." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." That is the basic difference, are we ready and willing to follow Jesus as the Virgin Mary had done? Mother Mary's yes came without questions, it came with full trust and confidence in the Lord. His will be done.
Here again is the contrast, "And Peter said, "Lo, we have left our homes and followed you." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."
The Lord requires a 100% from his followers, but Jesus helps us in our shortcomings.
Scripture does not address what happens to the three would be followers in this Gospel story, but perhaps later on they would take up the cross and follow Jesus.
Jesus is calling us constantly to commit to a deeper relationship with Him. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest example coming from Scripture. When the message of the Angel Gabriel announced the good news about the coming of Jesus, Mother Mary said yes without questioning what all that entailed:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."
As followers of Jesus, we would do well to follow Our Mother's example.