Date: Sunday, June 26, 2022
When I was Vocation Director for the Diocese, part of my job was to interview men expressing interest in seminary formation and priesthood. I remember one fellow after we chatted a bit asked, “When can I retire?” I was taken aback. In the business world that may be an appropriate question but less so when it comes to a vocation or life calling. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, after spending time in prayer at one with his Father in heaven, Jesus calls 12 disciples by name. The evangelist recounts that Jesus as he is making his way with the Twelve and preaching, is accompanied by women. Luke mentions three by name and then adds, “and many others, who provided for them out of there means” (Luke 8:3). Discipleship is more than a guy thing. In our Gospel today Jesus sets his sight on Jerusalem and begins his journey to the Holy City teaching his disciples and drawing those who are curious about him and wondering about the Kingdom God. “Along the way” Jesus encounters three would-be disciples.
Prospective disciple # 1, speaks up, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replies, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Jesus makes it clear to the eager recruit that the path ahead will take him far from his home without a pillow to rest his head.
Jesus calls # 2, “Follow me.” But he replies, “Lord let me go first and bury my father.” His father is not dead. He would not be away from home listening to Jesus. He is explaining to Jesus, “I have a responsibility to take care of my ailing father, after he dies, I’ll follow you.” Jesus responds curtly, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you come and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” There is no question that Jesus is setting the priority of the Kingdom of God above family loyalty and responsibility.
# 3 would be disciple volunteers to follow Jesus but immediately qualifies the commitment by adding “but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus will not hear it. “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is not trying to dissuade people from following him, but he is being forthright and honest about what discipleship really entails. Before a person commits, he or she must consider the cost. Jesus is striving to be straight with his would-be disciples to help them realize what they are getting into. Jesus does his best being upfront but at the hour of his greatest need, when Jesus is arrested and crucified, and the hour of peril for his disciples, most flee, one denies knowing him and one betrays him.
I remember Fr. Hugh Crean, my Spiritual Director at Louvain, saying “one only understands the meaning of a sacrament by receiving and living the sacrament.” This is also true of discipleship. One must make a commitment before fully realizing what is in store. This is certainly true for marriage. This is certainly true for priesthood.
On Friday the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade. The question of abortion is shifted back to the States. As Catholic Christians we ask how one espousing to be a follower of Jesus Christ should respond. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, our Bishop, Mike Fisher, and the other NY Bishops, released a statement. They propose the path forward. “All of us need to respect the dignity and sanctity of human life in everything we do: in how we treat our children, spouses and parents; in the way we behave in our place of work; in sum, how we live Jesus’ two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor. Love, charity, and reverence for human life from the moment of conception through natural death - these will build and sustain a culture of life.” I pray God will bestow the grace and courage upon us gathered here today to respect the dignity of women and the sanctity of human life in the womb.