|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come Follow Me on The Road to Perfection
Sunday, June 26, 2016
At the beginning of a New Year we often hear, “I’ll go on a diet tomorrow. Or just after this meal, then I’ll go on a diet.” Or, “I’ll stop drinking after this last drink; I’ll stop then.” And of course, they have another drink or overeat. We often say, “Oh, just this last one; let me just have this last one.”
In today’s gospel, we get this sense of “now” for discipleship —Jesus is trying to get across the urgency and the commitment to discipleship. He says, “Come, follow me. Now.” There is no tomorrow. The three different would-be disciples are told, “No. Now. Come follow me now.” No. Don’t go back to your homes. Don’t bury the dead. Don’t do anything. Come follow me now. Elijah in the first reading calls Elisha to come follow him but Elisha wants to go back and tend to his family. Then he realizes that Elijah will go without him; so he burns up the plows and has one final meal and immediately follows Elijah as the next prophet.
For us as Christians, we are called to live and to be a disciple now. There is no room for us to say, “Oh well, I’ll decide that tomorrow. I’ll stop gossiping after this last time; tomorrow I’ll stop.” Or, “I’ll be nice to my wife tomorrow, but for today, I am just going to be mean.” It even sounds absurd. Yet we do it in our own Christian lives. “I will just do these last chores around the house first and then I’ll pray.” Of course when we are done, we are too tired to pray. “I’ll start going to church next Sunday, but this Sunday I just need to see this football game, or I need to tend to this or that this Sunday.” And then next Sunday, we have a different reason for not going.
It is hard to be a disciple. It is not a straightforward task, but it is a decision and commitment we make and we make it now. We turn and we face the Lord, and we make all our decisions in line with that direction. It is a direction on which we set ourselves. One step at a time.
It is not a single step but a succession of steps; it is walking in the direction of faith. So the Lord asks us to choose it again today. We go to Church every week to remind ourselves of that choice, and we choose Christ again. It is not enough just to choose; we must walk that road. And we as a community must help each other; we go every Sunday to help others on that journey because there are days when it will be very hard for them. We promise as a community to help each other on that road to perfection; on that discipleship road. The Lord says it very clearly to us, “Come. Follow me. Now.”