Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to follow Jesus

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
June 30, 2013

Luke 9:51-62

Jesus begins his march towards Jerusalen decisively. He knows the risk he's running in the capital, but nothing stops him. His life only has one purpose: proclaiming and promoting the project of the Kingdom of God. The march starts off badly -- the Samaritans reject him. He's used to it -- the same thing happened to him in his hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus knows it isn't easy accompanying him in his life as an itinerant prophet. He can't offer his followers the security and prestige that the doctors of the law can offer their disciples. Jesus doesn't deceive anybody. Whoever wants to follow him will have to learn to live like him.

As he is going along the road, a stranger approaches. He looks enthusiastic -- "I will follow you wherever you go." First of all, Jesus makes him see that he must not expect security, advantages, or well-being from him. He himself "has nowhere to lay his head." He doesn't have a house, he eats what is offered him, sleeps where he can.

Let's not fool ourselves. The great obstacle that keeps many of us Christians today from really following Jesus is the well-being into which we have settled. We're afraid to take him seriously because we know he would require us to live in a more generous manner and in solidarity. We're slaves to our little well-being. Perhaps the economic crisis could make us more humane and more Christian.

Another man asks Jesus to let him go and bury his father before following him. Jesus answers him with a provocative and enigmatic play on words: "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." These disconcerting words question our conventional lifestyle.

We have to broaden the horizon in which we operate. Family isn't everything. There's something more important. If we decide to follow Jesus, we must also think of the human family -- no one should live without a home, without a homeland, papers, rights. We can all do something for a more just and fraternal world.

Another is ready to follow him but wants to say farewell to his family first. Jesus surprises him with these words: "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." Collaborating in Jesus' project requires total dedication, looking forward without being distracted, walking towards the future without being locked in the past.

Recently, Pope Francis warned us about something that's happening in the Church today: "We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind all our too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own."

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