GOSPEL READING: Matthew 8:18-22
18 Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Meditation: Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he may lead you? In love, the Lord Jesus calls each one of us personally by name and he invites us to follow him as our Lord and Teacher. What an awesome privilege and an awesome responsibility! What does it cost to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus? Our whole lives, for sure! The Lord Jesus in turn promises to give us all that we need to follow him and more besides! Before we “sign-up” for something, it is quite natural and appropriate to ask what it will cost us. Jesus made sure that any “would-be” followers knew what they were getting themselves into.
The cost of discipleship
One prospective follower, a scribe who was an expert in the Torah (the law of God in the first five books of Moses in the Jewish bible), paid Jesus the highest compliment he knew. He called Jesus “teacher”. Jesus advised this would-be follower: Before you follow me, think what you are about to do and count the cost. A disciple must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of following Jesus as Teacher and Master. Another would-be disciple responded by saying that he must first bury his father, that is go back home and take care of his father until he died. This disciple was not yet ready to count the cost of following Jesus. Jesus appealed to the man’s heart to choose for God’s kingdom first and to detach himself from anything that might keep him from following the Lord.
The greatest call
The Lord Jesus invites us into the most wonderful and greatest of relationships – a personal relationship of love and friendship, trust and commitment with himself, the Lord and Ruler of the heavens and the earth. How can we give the Lord our unqualified “yes” to the call he has for our lives? The Lord Jesus fills the hearts of those who accept his invitation of discipleship and friendship with the outpouring of his love into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). The love of God frees us from attachments to other things so we can give ourselves freely to God for his glory and for his kingdom. It was love that compelled the Lord Jesus to lay down his life for us. And he calls us in love to give our all for him.
We cannot outgive God
What can keep us from giving our all to God? Fear, self-concern, pre-occupation, and attachment to other things. Even spiritual things can get in the way of having God alone as our Treasure if we put them first. Detachment is a necessary step if 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. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot match God in generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake “will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Is there anything holding you back from giving your all to the Lord?
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace – with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more. (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556)
Psalm 50:1-5, 23
1 The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
3 Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
23 He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!”