13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013
Maybe a good title for this homily is 'not yet, Lord!'
A lady was taking her time browsing through everything at a yard sale. In a conversation with the homeowners she said, "my husband is going to be very angry when he finds out I stopped at this yard sale." "I'm sure he'll understand when you tell him about all the bargains," the owner replied. "Normally, yes," the lady said. "But he just broke his leg, and he's waiting for me to take him to the hospital to get it set."
Some things in life cannot be delayed. But we do delay them. Not for any sinister reason, but because we don't attach any real urgency to them.
The first reflection in today's commentary is concerned about doing the laundry. Which brings up a happening. As I was getting ready to go to retreat last weekend I found myself having to do laundry before I could go on retreat. As I was taking the washed out of the wash machine and putting it in the dryer I said, honey, here your enjoying yourself in heaven and I'm stuck with the wash. Some of you ladies are saying, that's not a big deal, but it seems like it was at the moment.
"Hurry up kids we are going to be late for Mass, mom!" "I have to find my shoes first." Or as sure as can be we are all entering the car to go to church or to wherever and someone will say, "I got to go to the bathroom." Of course all of us, who are parents, well know that all these things are important but why at this moment and most often as we should be ready for church and late already.
I think the gospel reading for today would assure us that this type of thing goes on all the time. We see Jesus walking along the road, and he encounters three men. The first man said to him. "I will follow you wherever you go." We've all probably felt like that at sometime or another: "I will follow you wherever you go."
We've had some mountaintop experiences, maybe some instances with them in Billy Graham's crusade that I remember as a kid. We used to listen to his crusades all the time on the radio and what's interesting about that is that as many people as would come to hear him and sometimes as many as hundred thousand people in the stadium packed for Billy's sermons and thousands would go up for an altar call as it was called.
Recently it was said that only between two and four percent of those who went forward on this altar call are still actively observing the Christian life. That's not to say that the crusade didn't do any good for there are lives of people who are touched in a beautiful way with these crusades but for the most of those who went forward it really didn't last. Maybe the will of god was not most important, or maybe they were saying as did say Saint Augustine, "Lord make me a Saint, not yet."
The point is, in some situations, we must say, "yes, Lord, I'm yours," but Christ knows you're just caught up in the moment. This was obviously the way it was with this first man who said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Notice: that Jesus response to him, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Jesus seems to be saying to him in a gentle way: you don't know what you're asking, following me is not for the faint of heart. It's not for people who are concerned about material possessions or comfort.
It's for people who are ready to put it all on the line. It's not for people who get excited on one occasion, who respond for an hour to a nice, warm, spiritual feeling. It is for people who are ready to be Christ's men, Christ's women, regardless of the current circumstances or how they happen to be feeling at the moment. "Foxes have dens and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Notice Jesus' encounter with second man. Jesus says to him, "Follow me." This man replies, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Here's a man suffering from 'not yet Lord, syndrome.'
We might wonder what he was doing talking to Jesus if his father just died? In the first century, the Jews buried the dead almost immediately. So obviously this was not at the moment, dead, but maybe advanced in age! as in our day it is the obligation of the son to bury the Dad.
Jesus' answer is a little harsh it seems, for he said, "let the dead bury the dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." So what's this all about? We seem to be left hanging because there really is no good answer to that statement.
The third man makes a request that is just as responsible, "I will follow you, Lord: but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family." Hey, these are nice guys and they want to follow Jesus but they've got responsibilities. And so they would follow him, "yes, but first..." Jesus is just as short with this third man as he was with the others. Jesus says to him , "no one who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Obviously Jesus regards the statement of the first man that he would follow him anywhere as superficial and replies to the second two as more excuses. He didn't really need any more halfhearted disciples. He wanted people who were ready to make a commitment.
Jesus wasn't looking for fans; he was looking for followers. Fans are easy to come by. Show the world that you are a winner, as the world defines a winner, and the world will regard you with adulation. Of course some of those fans will be fickle.
It is something like a few years ago when the Houston Astros were not enjoying the best baseball season, their fans got a little frustrated. We're told that a woman had left her season tickets on the dashboard of her car, forgetting to lock it, when she comes back she finds not only the two original tickets but two more so now she has four season tickets to the Astro baseball games.
Like the Astros Jesus doesn't want more fans. Fans are with you when you win or tie. Jesus has all the fans he needs. Jesus wants people who will walk in his footsteps daily regardless of the circumstances. Jesus wants people who will be with him whether he has ascended the throne or is crucified on a cross. Jesus wants people who mirror his compassion and his love, even when such love and compassion are unpopular.
Jesus doesn't want fans. He wants followers. Jesus wants people who will do more than simply sit in a pew and clap and cheer. He wants people who will take up the cross daily, the cross of service and love.
So you all be Good, Be Holy, and Preach the Gospel always! Use words only when necessary!
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.