We have to situate today’s gospel. Jesus was finishing his work in Galilee and was heading for Jerusalem knowing full well what he was to face there. He would be betrayed by one friend, denied by another and abandoned by all. He would be handed over to the Jewish authorities who would have him condemned to death and he would be executed by the Romans. Peter tried to talk him out of all this saying, ‘this must never happen to you Lord.’ Jesus told his disciples earlier, ‘I have a baptism with which I am to be baptized and how I am straightened until it is accomplished.’
There was intensity about Jesus. Nothing could turn him away from what was ahead. He demanded that same intensity, that same commitment from those who followed him.
When these two men wanted to follow him but not right now Jesus basically said, ‘it’s now or never.’ We might wonder whatever happened to, ‘honor your father and your mother’? This was a reasonable request, ’ let me first bury my father’ but Jesus was unbending. ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’ Get on with what you want to do. Jesus had no time for procrastinators, people who second guessed their commitments.
What today’s gospel is telling us is that in our commitment to following Jesus, the Christ who suffered and died for us, there is no room for hanging back, no room for fudging our response.
Each one of us here has been called to follow Jesus, to turn our back on our own sins, to live a life of love and holiness. We are to try to live a life in which we accept and respect as a brother or a sister any person who comes into our lives, regardless of their race, religion, their social standing or the sexual orientation. We all know it isn’t easy to love as we’ve been loved, accept as we’ve been accepted with all our faults and failings, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We may have generously put our hand to the plow but often we’ve failed to plow in a straight line. We’ve all looked back, we have failed, and we’ve made our own mistakes. We live with the fact that we are mistake making beings. Only the saints possessed the intensity Jesus demands in today’s gospel, the rest of us struggle along and some days we win and some days we lose.
Every time we pray the Our Father we recognize our need of God’s grace. We pray, ‘thy kingdom come’, thy kingdom come to that part of me which has yet to be redeemed. We pray, Give us this day our daily bread, the bread that strengthens us be faithful to you and accepting of others, the bread that strengthens us to get up when we fall and give it another try. St. Paul encourages us to never grow weary of doing what is good. Let this be our prayer of each other as we continue to celebrate our Mass today, may we never grow weary.