In today’s Gospel Jesus begins his last journey to Jerusalem, where he will be crucified. He knows that time is short. He does not let unfriendly Samaritans distract him. He is totally committed to his mission. Those who want to follow him must do so without hesitation, and be totally committed. Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but Jesus “has nowhere to rest his head” ... until his body is placed in the tomb.
Some readers of this Gospel are puzzled by Jesus’ statement to the man who would like to follow him, but first wants to bury his father. Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This does not mean that the man’s father had already died. Rather, the man wanted to wait at home UNTIL his father died, perhaps many years in the future. Because Christ’s crucifixion was imminent, there was no time to wait for parents to grow old and die, no time even to return home and say goodbye.
We are challenged by this Gospel to ask ourselves: “Am I totally committed to Jesus?” Such total commitment is not easy. Our society sometimes condemns Catholics because we follow Jesus in respecting life, family, and religious freedom. Our government attacks these values, and is forcing us to pay for insurance that covers abortions and birth control, in violation of our rights and consciences. Real commitment to Jesus will motivate us to follow him, no matter how difficult the road may become.
American bishops have asked us to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom” from June 21 through July 4, praying that our nation will return to a proper respect for religious freedom. During this time we Catholics should pray, study the issues involved, and encourage others to pray and study. We are encouraged by the words of our Blessed Mother: “Do whatever he tells you.” So we say to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”