Must I put on my jogging shoes, or my hiking, or fine Italian loafers? Do I need snowshoes? Must I cancel my mail as if preparing for a summer cruise? What precisely does it take to follow Christ? To follow Him, one asks to first burry a loved one, another to bid farewell. Both are rebuked, Christ does not allow these of His disciples? Really? Then there is the enigmatic quote “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Where does the “Son of Man” rest His head? What type of footwear shall I wear as I follow, what mode of transportation will there be? Where, might I ask, is the final destination? How long is the trip? When He asks “follow Me”, can I ask how far are we to go?
Perhaps I am going about this all wrong, and perhaps the disciples were too. Perhaps my first question should be altered. When Jesus states “follow Me”, might I ask if I need to move my feet. Might I ask the destination? These I think are the questions those disciples failed to ask. To the first “must I move my feet” I suspect the answer is no. Jesus, I suspect, did not wish them to take a journey measured in miles. The destination I suspect is the, Kingdom of God He preached. Follow Me, did not require one to abandon a loved one. It did not mean the disciple could not bury the dead, or bid farewell to a loved one. It simply meant they could not do that first. To follow Christ and bury the dead required that they be done simultaneously. One could at once follow Jesus, and stay with a loved one. To follow Christ truly meant a person’s feet need not move. One can follow Christ while planted firmly in a chair. Follow me is a journey not measured in miles. It is not a change in location, or in geography. “Follow Me” is to follow Jesus in mind and heart and soul. It is a spiritual journey, not an athletic one.
Those disciples one must understand came from another world, a world of different customs, experiences, and expectations. There journey with Jesus Christ also involved a learning curve. They needed to understand the language that the LORD spoke.
Look when they travel ahead of the LORD to Samaria, and ponder when those Samaritans reject Jesus Christ. In that rejection they refuse to follow Him, they reject His teachings. In that rejection, the disciples ask if they should “call on God to consume them.” Had they not yet realized Gods only Son walked among them to save them? Their journey was not only to Jerusalem. Their journey was in understanding who they walked with. It takes a while to understand Jesus’s call to “Follow me”
Jesus’s “Follow Me” does not require abandonment of this world, but simply journeying through this world with Him. One cannot partition the spiritual from the physical, they are intertwined. They exist together. One does not follow at one moment, and change course in the next. It’s not governed by law or reason, but through conversion, and conversion was the journey those disciples were truly on. The foot paths they walked were merely a tool of conversion, the foot journey merely allowed them time. Time to listen, and time to change. What they did not realize is that they were not only journeying to the city of Jerusalem, at the same time they were journeying back to the LORD. Even all the while He walked among them. They journeyed towards Him and with Him at the same time. That is to say they answered His call to “Follow Me.”
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time