The Lord says this:
For the three crimes, the four crimes, of Israel
I have made my decree and will not relent:
because they have sold the virtuous man for silver
and the poor man for a pair of sandals,
because they trample on the heads of ordinary people
and push the poor out of their path,
because father and son have both resorted to the same girl,
profaning my holy name,
because they stretch themselves out by the side of every altar
on clothes acquired as pledges,
and drink the wine of the people they have fined
in the house of their god…
Yet it was I who overthrew the Amorites when they attacked,
men tall as cedars and strong as oaks,
I who destroyed them,
both fruit above ground
and root below.
It was I who brought you out of the land of Egypt
and for forty years led you through the wilderness
to take possession of the Amorite’s country.
See then how I am going to crush you into the ground
as the threshing-sledge crushes when clogged by straw;
flight will not save even the swift,
the strong man will find his strength useless,
the mighty man will be powerless to save himself.
The bowman will not stand his ground,
the fast runner will not escape,
the horseman will not save himself,
the bravest warriors will run away naked that day.
It is the Lord who speaks.
When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’
Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head
Following Christ has always had its risks. This has been demonstrated throughout the Bible by the disciples. Each and every one of those who chose to follow Jesus had to weigh their decision and consequences, and I would like to think they did not find it easy to simply lay everything down for the road.
In the gospel passage today, two men had approached Jesus declaring their intentions to follow him. To each man, he had different replies –
“Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
“Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.”
Jesus looks into our hearts and sees through our desires. Not so much as to judge us, but rather to direct our awareness to a deeper reality of what we mean and that we need to grow in our trust in him. These men point to our various requests of the path of faith — first, that it still provides physical and material comfort and security; and second, that we delay or postpone saying “Yes” to God until all other life’s responsibilities have been settled, or that we had enjoyed life enough on our own terms. In the words of St Augustine: “Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
Indeed, being human, we would have many terms and conditions for God, demands of His covenant, requests for more leeway. However, the responsorial psalm’s refrain today says “Mark this, you who never think of God.” How have we chosen to follow Christ today? Is our ‘Yes’ filled with echoes of lousy excuses and caveats? Are we sincere and contrite? Our surrender will not be a one-time affair. May we continue to follow Christ with all our heart, body and spirit – and to keep choosing so even when the stakes are high.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Lord, I pray for the grace and a strong will to follow you and love you wholeheartedly, despite the fear of losing out in the arms race of this world.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the courage of the first apostles, martyrs, missionaries, religious, and all who sacrificed their lives to spread God’s word and love – that others might partake in the promise of eternal life.