3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)

by | Jun 25, 2022

No side tracking him from following him

I have a nephew. He was first in his city when he wrote his GCSC or tenth class exams. I was so happy and I got a seat for him in the most prestigious St. Joseph’s college in Bangalore. He chose maths and science as his main subjects. As he was going to college every day, he saw a film institute on the way. He joined this film institute to use his spare time to gain a diploma in Film Direction along with his college. At the end he failed in his college but passed in the diploma. And it is almost ten years; he is still going around Bangalore to get some chance to direct a film. He is struggling whereas all those who studied with him and finished the college are engineers and professionals.

His story can be our story sometimes. We pay a heavy price if we forget what we are here for in life. Stephen Covey in his best seller, “The seven Habits of Highly effective people,” says that highly effective people “Begin with the end in mind”. We need to know our destination before we buy a train or flight ticket. We require a blueprint before we start putting up a building.  The goal is so important that according to Covey, the carpenter has a rule, “Measure twice, Cut once.”

The carpenter’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth understood this carpenter’s rule better than many of us. He kept the end in mind. And today’s gospel brings out this truth. It says “He had set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  He was not going for a barbeque party in Jerusalem because it was summer. No, Jerusalem in this case represents the culmination of his mission in life that ends with His suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension.  His mission is to set up the kingdom of God. And this needs an unwavering commitment and we can see this in his words and deeds in the gospel. And he also calls the followers to have the same commitment. In no way we are to be distracted or sidetracked.

The gospel also points out to three ways in which we may be possibly sidetracked. The first is that we may be too reluctant to give up comforts of home.  And so when the prospective disciple very confidently states, “I will follow you wherever you go,” Jesus responds by saying, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Would the disciple be ready to go that far in following him?

The second way of getting sidetracked is highlighted when another would-be disciple mentioned that he needed to take care of prior responsibilities like burying his father. What we call social commitments. Jesus’ response to that is “Leave the dead to bury the dead.” Let those who are not interested in life take care of it. Now that you have got chance to follow me, Do it. Don’t waste the chance.

The third perspective disciple is being sidetracked by still holding on to past relationships. He wants to go and say farewell to those at home. And Jesus points to the goal again. “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

In all these situations it is not that the followers wanted to do what is immoral. They are all good, legitimate things. But when there is a call for higher things like the kingdom of God all these things become relative. These things become unimportant.

The idea well brought out by a story I found on the Internet: There was a guard who was in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous coast. He was given enough oil for a month to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for oil so that her child could stay warm on a wintry night. Then a farmer came for oil to light up his lamp so that his son could read. Another needed oil for his engine. The guard obliged in every case. At the end of the month there was no oil left for the lighthouse. It was pitch dark one night. Three ships were shipwrecked and a hundred people lost their lives. The guard gave his excuses and they seemed to be very legitimate ones. But the prosecutor said, “You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Everything else was secondary. What have you done?” The gospel is challenging us to examine and see ‘what are the things that are sidetracking us from following Jesus?’ And What are the things we need to give up to follow?

Fr. Showreelu Simham