How great and horrible would it be to hear those words?

the Gospel of Matthew

Image by humberpike via Flickr

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  Another of (his) disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 16 But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”  (Matthew 8:21-22)

Observation:  When I read the gospel this morning, I was left with a question of which of the two characters was most like me in the two that were presented in today’s gospel reading for Mass.  As you can see by the two verses I chose, it is the disciple who asked about burying his father.  My title says it all…I mean, it would be great to hear Jesus tell me to follow him, because then I would know, for sure that he believes that I am capable of conquering my sinfulness and really following him.  At the same time, it would be horrible to hear the words that my father is dead and I was not able to go and pay him the respect he deserves for the good things that he did while on earth.  The footnotes say that this saying of Jesus was trying override an obligation that was emphasized by the Jewish and Hellenistic world.  They were placing their relationship to their earthly father as an obligation of highest importance, and Jesus simply says that we should be about building up the kingdom of God, once our earthly father has passed from this world to the next.

Personification:  Patience  As I think about my relationship with my earthly father, I realize that I spend way too much time concerned with justifying my faith to him.  I am going to try to act with the fruit of patience in my life, from this day forward and get out of the way and allow the grace of God continue to lead him to the truth.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for revealing your truth to me and allowing me to see where I should be willing to let go and the places that you need me to hang on.  I’m sorry for the times that I have failed, and ask that you send down your angels to continue to protect my family and allow me to find the path that you have laid before me.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.


3 thoughts on “How great and horrible would it be to hear those words?

  1. This is a good post, Jason, and calls for some serious reflection regarding real discipleship. The oriental custom was to honor one’s father and wait until his passing before such service. The indication is very clear that the man’s father was not already dead, and that he had an obligation to serve him and then be there for his burial. in the Luke account, the Lord had asked this man to follow him prior to the man’s reply. It could be years before the man’s father actually passed, and the Lord was showing the much greater importance of following Him NOW. This is what we often miss. It is not only urgent that we put the Lord first in time, but that we put Him first in responsibility and obligation. What an honor it would be, the greatest honor, to be called into His service. What a complete idiot one would have to be, for any reason, to turn Him down…


    • I think there are times in our lives that it is difficult to answer the call, because of pressures that we receive from our immediate families. If the Lord calls us to service, we should answer that call within the confines of our present condition in the church and our obligations to our immediate family. I would not use the word idiot to describe anyone who is struggling with a decision to follow the Lord for these reasons…However, if your issue is that you feel called to fulfill your obligation to an earthly father, Jesus is pretty clear on where your allegiance should be. God bless you and thanks for the comment.

  2. Thank you for your reply. I agree that it is sometimes difficult to answer the call, just as real discipleship is difficult. On the other hand, in the case of the person in question, the Lord Jesus looked directly at him and asked him to be one of His followers. Imagine that. If one’s heart is right, how could he possibly turn down the greatest of all invitations? Perhaps my chosen word describing this man was in a sense inappropriate, but I wanted to drive the point home. I do not say a person in our day who is struggling to make such a decision can be described as such. But in a case when all doubt is removed and the Lord is standing at the door knocking, it really should not take too much thought or time to make a decision, though there are possible exceptions. Blessings to you also. Keep up the good work.

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