Lectio Divina: Luke 9:57-62
1) Opening prayer
You show Your almighty power
in Your mercy and forgiveness.
Continue to fill us with Your gifts of love.
Help us to hurry towards the eternal life You promise
and come to share in the joys of Your kingdom.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 9:57-62
As Jesus and his disciples 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." Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."
● In today's Gospel the long and hard journey of Jesus continues from the periphery of Galilee to the capital city. Leaving Galilee, Jesus enters Samaria and continues toward Jerusalem. Not all understand Him. Many abandon Him because the demands are enormous. Others get close to Him and decide to follow Jesus. At the beginning of His pastoral activity in Galilee, Jesus had called three: Peter, James and John (Lk 5:8-11). Also, in Samaria, there are three people who present themselves, who are called. In Jesus’ responses there are requirements or conditions for being able to be His disciples.
● Luke 9:56-58: The first one of the three new disciples. At that time, as they traveled along, they met a man who said to Jesus, “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.” To this first person who wants to be His disciple, Jesus asks him to divest himself of everything: he will have nowhere to lay his head.
● Luke 9:59-60: The second one of the three new disciples. To another one He says “Follow Me”. And he replied, “Let me go and bury my father first”. Jesus replied, “Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the Kingdom of God”. To this second person called by Jesus to follow Him, He asks him to let the dead bury the dead. It was a popular saying which meant this: leave aside the things of the past. Do not lose time with what happened. Look ahead. After having discovered new life in Jesus, the disciple should not waste time on what has happened in the past. This theme was also in Gn 19:17, as Lot was instructed. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we see this as well. It is important to have “detachment from sin”, as well as contrition. Do not look back and see the past as something to yearn for, but instead, leave the sin of the past and look to follow Jesus.
● Luke 9:61-62: The third one of the three new disciples. Another said, “I will follow You, Sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home”. But Jesus replied, “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God”. Jesus asks this third person called to discipleship to break the bonds of family unity. On another occasion He had said, “Anyone who loves his father and his mother more than Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk 14:26; Mt 10:37). Jesus is more demanding than the prophet Elijah, who allowed Elisha to greet and take leave of his parents (1 Kings 19:19-21). This also means to break the nationalistic bonds of race and the patriarchal family structure.
● These are three fundamental requirements for those who want to be the disciples of Jesus: (a) to abandon material goods, (b) not to be attached to things of the past (c) to break away from the family bonds. In reality, nobody, not even one wishing to do so, can break the family bonds or break away from things lived in the past. What is asked is to know how to re-integrate everything (material goods, personal life and family life) in a new way around the new axis, which is Jesus and the Good News of God which He has brought to us.
● Jesus lived and became aware of what He was asking of His followers. With His decision to go up to Jerusalem, Jesus reveals His plan. His journey toward Jerusalem (Lk 9:51–19:27) is depicted as the undertaking (Lk 9:51), the exodus (Lk 9:31) or the crossing (Lk 17:11). Arriving in Jerusalem Jesus fulfills the exodus, the undertaking or the definitive crossing from this world toward the Father (Jn 13:1). Only a truly free person can do this, because such an exodus presupposes the dedication of one's whole life for the brothers (Lk 23:44-46; 24:51). This is the exodus, the crossing, the undertaking of which the communities should be aware, if they are to carry on Jesus' mission.
4) Personal questions
● Compare each one of these three requirements with your life. How well are you fulfilling these requirements?
● What problems arise in your life as a result of the decision which you have made to follow Jesus?
For further study
St Francis was one who took the call from Jesus seriously. Like many saints, he was very involved in the pleasures of the time. However, once he recognized the call, he began to follow, ultimately “not looking back”. He was serious about not compromising in this regard, and his sincerity even moved Pope Innocent III. In fact, most saints don’t begin as “saints”, but at some time decide to follow these three requirements of Jesus without compromise. Take some time to read the lives of a few saints such as St Francis of Assisi, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Benedict, or St Bernard, just to name a few.
5) Concluding prayer
Yahweh, You examine me and know me,
You know when I sit,
when I rise,
You understand my thoughts from afar. (Ps 139:1-2)