- Matt 8:18-22
- The Would-be Followers of Jesus
I read this old adage that says: “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Jesus in today’s gospel reading is inviting us to be His disciples, to follow Him. What an awesome privilege and an awesome responsibility too. It is because to follow Him carries with it certain urgency; to follow Him is not an easy one in the sense that we generously hand over our own will to Him unconditionally. Following and serving the Lord is not something to be delayed or postponed or put it aside for the meantime. It is something that we have to do now! Like for example, being faithful to the Ten Commandments is not something that we put off until the future. We have to obey them now. That is why the psalmist says: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
It costs to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus makes sure that any of His “would-be” followers know what they are getting themselves into. He warns them of two things:
First, think what you are doing and count the cost. In other words, we must be willing to make sacrifices, even the sacrifice of our own life to follow Jesus as our Master and Lord. For Jesus, it was love that compelled Him to lay down His life for us. Let the love of Christ compels us also to give all for the Lord. What can keep us from giving our all to God? Is it fear, self-concern, pre-occupation and attachment to other things?
One of the best stories that I read about sacrifice is the one about a prince and his family who were captured by Cyrus, the founder of Persian Empire. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prince-prisoner: “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my wealth,” was his reply. “And if I release your children?” Everything I possess,” said the prince. “And if I release your wife?” “Your Majesty, I will give myself.” Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife: “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him: “I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you, the one who was willing to give himself for me.”
Second is to detach ourselves from anything that hinders us in following Him. Detachment from all personal wants and desires is the way to simplicity of heart. It is a necessary step as we want to make the Lord our Treasure and Joy. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and to His service. In other words, Jesus clearly states that He is more important than our family ties which are usually the strongest human relationships we have. He is challenging us to see if there is something holding us back. That is why when one is telling Him to follow Him but allow him first to bury his father. Jesus said: ‘let the dead bury their dead.” The Lord says these words because surely, the man’s father is not yet dead but, perhaps elderly; and the man was asking if he could wait ‘til after his father’s death. Jesus says: “No, come now!” Postponement becomes a habit: after his father’s death he will find another reason for delay and another and another….
May we recognize clearly the urgency of the opportunities the Lord gives us to respond to His gracious invitation to follow Him fully in the up-building of the Kingdom of God.