The Gospel on Sunday, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, continues the teaching about the cost of discipleship – its rewards too, but especially its costs.
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 on 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.’
The choice to identify radically with Jesus, to be a disciple ready to pay the price, might seem to separate the disciple from others, to form a radical group, separate from ‘the others’. Yet Jesus needs to teach the disciples that if they are to radically associate with him, they need also to tear down the barriers that exist between them and others. They belong to all, and also belong to no-one but Christ.
- From whom do you separate? Why?
- For whom do you care most and why?
- In what way might that care unite you also with Christ? Is there a way in which that care is also in tension with your communion with Christ?
St George. St Leonard’s Church, Charlecote. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.