Nothing Less for God’s Kingdom

Luke 9: 57-62
Neh 2: 1-8 / Psa 137

…go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9: 60)

What matters is what we are now,
Not what we’d been or left behind.
He who “sets a hand to the plow”
Has set God’s kingdom on his mind.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Reflection

The lessons in today’s Gospel present to us a clear idea of what it means when we are called to mission, or to witness for the kingdom of God. “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” When Jesus set out on His mission, He gave up the comfort of hearth and home to accomplish His Father’s will. God does not expect us to do the same, but for the sake of the Gospel we must be ready to face trials and difficulties, forego our personal or profitable pursuits, and even quality time with our loved ones at home. Jesus said, “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life; and few are those who find it” (Mt.7:14). Sometimes we are tempted to take the wide and easy road, but does it really lead to the fulfillment that we seek? I must confess that I am guilty at times of choosing the easy way out in writing my Gospel reflections (when I am not in the mood) by just using one out of my old files.

“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” What Jesus means is that serving the kingdom of God cannot wait. Let those who are without spiritual life be the ones to bury the dead, who can no longer be saved; but those who have life in the Spirit have a greater duty to the living. Nothing in this world is more important than God’s call to mission. Neither a burial nor a celebration takes priority or precedence. No ifs or buts, no fears or doubts — that’s what mission’s all about. God first above everything, because we believe that in the end He will reward all our efforts and sacrifices a hundredfold.

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Jesus was actually citing the prophet Elijah when he called Elisha to service, as the latter was plowing his field (1 Kings 19:19-21). But in the case of Elijah, he allowed his protégé Elisha to tarry by slaughtering his oxen and giving a feast to his kinsmen before he followed Elijah. This is not to be so with Jesus. The conditions for following Him are absolute, and leave no room for concessions. In His service, there is no looking back. God is not interested in our past, but what we are doing now to prepare ourselves for His kingdom. He had given us His Best — His Only Son — for our salvation. It’s only right that we likewise give our all, which, in the cosmic order of things, is really not worth much in the bargain. So how can home or family or anything in this life be more important?

Help us understand, Lord God, that nothing in this life is more important than being faithful followers of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave up His life for our salvation. Grant us the grace to follow His example in every way. Amen.

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