Be resolute for the journey, Luke 9: 51-62
By Alvin Peters
Our lives are not meant to be lived passively. We were not created to sleepwalk through our earthly existence. We were made to go on a journey, to travel through unfamiliar territories, to face difficulties and challenges and through our experiences, learn more about our relationship with God and about who we are and come out stronger as a result. At least that is what I keep telling myself. For me the gospel this week is about that resolute journey that Jesus took with His disciples and what we can learn from the events that happened along the way.
In the first encounter, Jesus was refused hospitality by the Samaritans because they knew He was going to Jerusalem, the home of their enemy. Jesus, of course, knew that but decided to give them a ‘bligh’ anyway. ‘Who knows,’ Jesus probably thought, ‘maybe they’ll change their ways.’ We must always be willing to take chances even when the odds seem against us. That goes for people and opportunities. Sometimes, we hesitate because our brains are built to protect us from danger especially if we experienced similar pains before. Even if we receive rejection, that should not stop us from continuing to move on. A closed mind, and as we see from the reaction from James and John, a closed fist, seems righteous but all that does is separate us from a chance for peace and God’s love. No wonder our Lord had to rebuke them. How easy it is to reject His teachings at times, especially when emotions get in the way.
In the second encounter, someone declares to Jesus that he will follow Him wherever He goes. Jesus’ reply is that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. For me, this means that there is uncertainty in this life. Who knows what will happen from one day to the next. You face one challenge, you solve it and here comes another one right behind. It’s okay to relax, but not for too long. The Holy Spirit calls for us to work for the Kingdom, not to stand idly by. We should acknowledge the existence of uncertainty and have faith that no matter what, God will come to our help.
The next person is also willing to follow Jesus but says that he wants to bury his father first. Jesus’ reply seems harsh: Let the dead bury their dead. Perhaps what the person is saying is that he cannot follow Jesus unless certain favourable conditions are met. But if we wait for the right conditions or the right moment to follow our Lord, we may never take that first step. Jesus is calling us all to serve Him today. We may think we are not ready but that is because we are looking at our flawed selves. We have to let go of the doubts and fears. Let them be dead or else the journey will not even begin.
The person in the last encounter wanted to say goodbye to the people at home before embarking on the journey with Christ. Our Lord’s reply is interesting: “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no-one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Is Jesus saying we can’t say farewell to those we love? Not at all. If we wish to follow our Lord, then we must direct our heart, strength and mind towards Him. If a farmer looks back while ploughing the field, then he might go off the path. A field not properly ploughed cannot yield a good harvest. It is good to look back to see how far we have come but we must continually aim forward and high. Dwelling on the past and our shortcomings and failures may cause a defeatist attitude. Such as mindset may cause us to falter.
Notice in the beginning of the gospel it says that Jesus resolutely took the road to Jerusalem. To be resolute means to be purposeful, unwavering, undaunted. Despite the challenges, Jesus continued forward. We too must be resolute on our journey as individuals and as a community. We cannot aspire to Heaven if we allow anger and resentment to be rationale for defeat; fear of the future freezes us into inactivity or the unwillingness to let go of the past mars our dreams. Jesus is walking with us whether we recognise that or not. But remember following Him is not for the timid nor faint of heart. Every day with the gifts that God has given us, we must renew ourselves so that no matter how difficult things may seem, we will not give up. Let us learn to be resolute and keep moving forward to Heaven even if we stumble or get bruised along the way.
The gospel meditations for June were by Alvin Peters, a Catholic primary school teacher and a member of the Cathedral/Sacred Heart Parish.