The Cost of Discipleship

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:57-62)

Scripture Study

This episode combines several short sayings of Jesus. As He travels toward Jerusalem, people respond in various ways to His call for discipleship. Jesus emphasizes that His followers must be willing to face hardships and make sacrifices.

9:58 Son of Man Jesus’ most common way of referring to Himself Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the ot book of Daniel (see Dan 7:13 and note). This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus. Here, however, it highlights His position as a homeless itinerant.

9:60 Let the dead bury their dead The call to discipleship takes precedence over all other duties. The exchange here is similar to one in Luke 9:59–62. In both passages, potential disciples hesitate in light of their earthly responsibilities. However, Jesus is concerned with discipleship, not familial obligations.

9:62 No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind Followers of Jesus must have a singular focus on the work of God’s kingdom. This may be an allusion to 1 Kgs 19:19–21.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today is an especially good exemplification of the principle of detachment. When Jesus is the unambiguous center of your life, then everything else finds its place around him, in relation to him. And anything that would assert itself and take his position must be resisted wholeheartedly as an idol and a temptation.

We watch as Jesus clarifies for his disciples how a number of worldly goods fall away, once he is recognized as Lord. I want to look closely at one of these. As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem, a man approaches him and says, “I will follow you wherever you go”. And Jesus makes the laconic remark, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. One of the things, quite naturally, that we savor is home, a place to stay, a nest, a man-cave. There is just something uniquely awful about being displaced, about starting all over. We all want a place to lay our heads.

But if Jesus is first in our lives, then we cannot absolutize this good thing. We have to be willing to follow him wherever he wants us to go.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.