Gospel and Homily Notes by Archbishop Joseph Harris, C.S. Sp
Gospel: Luke, 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. As they 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.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The technological mind-set has caused us to become very predictable people. We have become a people of order. We like to know precisely what is to be done and when it is to be done. We love to plan our lives so that there is predictability. This however is the characteristic of people who are not committed to a cause.
I remember speaking to one of the founders of a teachers union and he described for me how crazy his timetable had become, and how there was no predictability in his life. He went where ever there was a need to go to promote the union. Causes become bigger than the individual and at times are hard taskmasters. We go where the cause beckons, and the demands of the cause become greater than the normal responsibilities of life. It is because of this resoluteness though that causes are brought to successful conclusions. Life without a cause is simply existence not life. It is having a cause that defeats boredom and brings creativity to life.
Our Gospel passage this weekend reminds us of what belonging to a cause really means and it invites us to join the cause of the Kingdom of God. The gospel reminds us that becoming part of a cause is serious business. It demands resoluteness. We go resolutely wherever it calls. The Gospel passage begins by telling us that Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” He then tells his disciples “foxes have holes and birds have nests but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head,” signalling in this way the sacrifices involved in following a causes. Following a cause demands that nothing takes preference over it, not even burying the dead, not even saying goodbye to family and friends.
The cause of the kingdom, the creating of a world of Justice and Peace is in fact the cause for all Christians. All other causes get their validity from their relationship to that overarching cause, the creating of a world of Justice and Peace, the creating of the Kingdom.
And so the Gospel questions each of us. What is your cause? What is it for which you are willing to live and if necessary give your life? For Nelson Mandela it was the dream of South Africa freed from discrimination. For Martin Luther King, it was the dream of brotherhood among blacks and whites in North America. For Mons. Romero, it was an El Salvador freed of oppression. For our parents it was the dream of children better educated than they were. For Pope Francis, it is a poor church dedicated to the poor. What then is your cause? What is it for me?
Today we thank God for these examples and we ask God for the Spirit of Wisdom so that we recognize that the fate of our world, the future of our country, of our neighbourhoods, our family, our church, depend on the causes that you and I espouse.
All powerful and ever-loving God, fill us with your Spirit. Help us to recognize that we all need worthwhile causes in our lives, causes which reflect not simply our own self-aggrandisement but the good of humanity. Give us the courage to accept these causes and the stick-at- it- iveness to see them through to the end. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, our mother and Jesus your Son. Amen