To follow Jesus means having the courage to face reality.
Today’s readings can be found here.
When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side.
A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, 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.”
Another of (his) disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
Why do we follow Jesus? This is the question posed by today’s Gospel. The scene described by Matthew has two sides: On the one hand, a man who declares that he wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus answers with a refusal of sorts:
“Master, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replies: “Foxes have their dens and the birds of the sky their nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.”
The answer is clear: Jesus is not a comfortable pillow on which one can fall asleep. He’s not a cheap pain reliever, nor a way to flee from the fatigue of life, but exactly the opposite.
Following means taking responsibility for all the drama of life and having the courage to face reality. In this sense, his is not a comfortable but a rather demanding way of life.
On the other hand, the second part of the Gospel tells us of a disciple who asks for a single, seemingly plausible condition for following Jesus: “Lord, allow me to go and bury my father first.” But Jesus answered him: “Follow me and let the dead bury their dead.”
There are always sensible reasons to leave for later some of the things that matter in life, but sometimes behind those reasons we hide our fear of making decisions and becoming true adults. Jesus is not insulting the young man’s parents, but he is pointing out the kind of death-clinging reasoning he is using. What we understand as crucial in our lives needs to be chosen immediately, without postponing.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio’, Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.