Wednesday September 28, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Nehemiah 2:1-8) Gospel (St. Luke 9:57-62)
The Gospel reading that we just heard is exceedingly important for us because it raises the question of whom we are going to serve. When we hear in this Gospel reading three times the call to follow the Lord, we see three different answers. In the one from Our Lord Himself where he tells the man who says, “I’ll follow you wherever you go,” He tells the man, The foxes have dens and the lions have lairs but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Are we willing to follow Him wherever it is going to lead? Are we willing to do whatever it is going to take? What we like to do is say, “As long as things are convenient, as long as it’s kind of pleasant and easy, I’ll be right there with You.” That is not the way following the Lord works. As we all know, if we are going to follow the Lord, it is going to be right up the hill to Calvary – and then we are going to be crucified with Him. The only place He had to lay His head was on the Cross. Are we willing to do that with Him?
Then the Lord called someone to follow Him and the man said, “Let me first go and bury my father.” Someone else said, “Let me first go and say goodbye to my family.” These are not unreasonable requests, but Our Lord is making very clear that if we are going to follow Him it has to be unconditional. It has to be with one’s whole heart. Now we know that among the works of mercy is burying the dead. The Lord is obviously not opposed to that. The man’s father probably was not yet dead, so he is saying, “I’ll follow you when the time is convenient for me. After my father dies then I’ll follow you.” That is not an option.
We are all called to follow Christ. For some, the following of Christ is going to be to take care of the sick and the dying; it is to be selfless in that manner. For others, it is to leave everything behind and follow Him as a missionary or a religious, as the case might be. We do not know what it is that He is necessarily going to ask. We have to be willing to do anything He will ask. That is the part that is a little difficult for us because we are not in control; He has to be. Are we willing to allow that? Are we willing to allow Him to be God and to tell us what it is that He wants for us and what He wants from us?
If we are going to say, “I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” it must be unconditional and we must do exactly what He has told us, that is, to love God first and to love our neighbor next. It is pretty simple when you look at it that way. We make it very complicated because we want to put all kinds of conditions on our desire to follow the Lord. The Lord had no conditions when He came into this world. He had no conditions when He went to the Cross. If we are going to follow Him, it also must be without condition, to love Him and to follow Him with our whole heart and our whole soul and our whole strength, with all of our being, to make clear that that is what we are planning to do – no matter what comes, no matter what happens, no matter how difficult it becomes – that we are going to follow Christ unconditionally.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.