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Following Christ

Following Christ

Greetings from Fr. Isidore Clarke on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Today's Gospel –Lk. 9. 51-62 -marks a decisive turning point in Christ's mission.Resolutely, he sets out on the journey to Jerusalem.There he would be raised physically on the cross, and would ascend to glory with his heavenly Father.

This would not simply be a personal triumph for Jesus himself.Through His death and resurrection He would overcome the power of evil and enable us to share in the victory of his love and goodness.Jesus was travelling to fulfil the whole purpose of His life and mission. Today's Gospel raises the question, 'Are we prepared to travel with Christ?'

So, Jesus started his journey to Jerusalem by spelling out what it would mean for us to be his true followers on a life-long pilgrimage.He didn't promise a comfortable journey.Instead, we must travel the same road as Him.For Him and for us the cross is the way to the glory of heaven.

In today's Gospel there are three possible disciples. The first enthusiastically offered to follow Christ wherever He went. His heart was in the right place, but he needed to realise that the journey would be rough and would lead to the cross.Like Jesus, he wouldn't have the stability and security of a fixed dwelling place here on earth.As with Jesus, the disciple's true home was with his heavenly Father.We Christians must share Christ's restlessness, ever on the move, until we've completed the journey.Only in the Kingdom can we enjoy eternal rest. Was he prepared for that?Are we?A shallow enthusiasm won't sustain us through the difficulties.

Like a cross-country runner we will need to work through the pain and press on to the end. We, Christ's followers, mustn't settle down contentedly with what the world has to offer, however good that may be.

Jesus then invited another man to follow Him.He was willing to do that, but wanted first to go back home to say 'Farewell' to his family. .But Jesus stressed that we, his followers, must move forward, not backwards to the life we're about to leave.

Jesus made the same point with the third man.He wanted first to bury his father, who may have been dying or already dead. In either case it would have meant a delay in travelling with Christ.Jesus certainly didn't lack human compassion but wanted to drive home the point that absolutely nothing must delay us in following Him.We mustn't put that off till tomorrow; nor must we be part time, Sunday Christians.

Though Jesus demands our total commitment, that is to be within the vocation of our daily lives.While following Him doesn't mean that we must allleave everything behind, it does mean that we must all be full time fully committed Christians.We can't take a holiday from that!Like Jesus, we all need determination and perseverance if we are to make the way of the cross to the glory of heaven.

But Jesus makes it clear that our zeal must be tempered with compassion and patience.He condemns those disciples who wanted to call down divine wrath on the Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus.He came to win people through his love for them, not destroy them in his anger.We Christians must stand out as sharing Christ's merciful compassion, when he asked his heavenly Father to forgive the very people who were responsible for his brutal death.Such merciful love is essential to our following Christ.A loveless, unforgiving, zeal has nothing to do with true discipleship.

No Greater Love
Do Unto Others