Discipleship

Matthew 8:18-22
Gen 18:16-33 / Psa 103

Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
(Matthew 8:22)

With resolute will may I follow
The Lord Jesus in all His ways;
I will have no fear of tomorrow,
Knowing God will bless all my days.

When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe came up to Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head.” Another disciple said to Him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)

Reflection

One was a scribe, the other a disciple. The former was willing, but the latter was reluctant. Both of them were impressed by the wisdom and power of Jesus, and wanted to follow Him in His mission, but they were restrained by certain conditions. In the case of the scribe, our Lord knew that his enthusiasm was driven by vainglory, an opportunity to be associated with a wonder worker who would likely reap for him wisdom, if not fame and fortune. Jesus knew his misguided motive, and had to warn him of the difficulties and deprivation that he would encounter if he wanted to be a disciple.

The disciple, on the other hand, asked for a little time before he could join the Lord. Perhaps his father was not yet dead, but was well along in years, and like any good Jewish son, he wanted to be sure that he could take care of his father until the very end of his life before committing himself to Jesus. After all, the law of God handed down to Moses stated, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut.5:16). True, but our Lord wanted His disciples to know that proclaiming the kingdom of God was far more important than taking care of one’s elderly parent or burying the dead. In effect, Jesus was saying that those who are without spiritual life should be the ones burying the dead who can no longer be saved; but those who have life in the Spirit have a greater duty to bring the Good News to the living. As He said later, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life— he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk.14:26-27). Jesus also told His apostles: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Mt.16:29).

The cost and sacrifice of following Jesus then as it is now may be high, but it is the best and wisest investment that we can make of our time, money, talent and effort in this life if we want to gain a greater life that is eternal. If we believe in Jesus Christ and His words, there is simply no other concern in this life more important than serving in the kingdom of God. The conditions for following Jesus leave no room for concessions. As our Lord showed in His own passion and death, we must be focused and resolute in pursuing the ultimate purpose of our life, whatever conditions may prevail. St. Paul, like the other apostles and saints, abandoned everything to serve the Lord, and like Jesus, paid the ultimate price with his life. But with full confidence, he said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Father God, grant us even just a small measure of the kind of faith that the apostles of our Lord Jesus had, so that we may be able to practice the Gospel values of Jesus in our family, community, and profession, and also be considered as His true followers. Amen.

Comments are closed.