1.1Kings 19:16,19-21
2. Galatians 5,1,13-18
Luke9: 51-62

                             "  Either all or Nothing"

It happened that a watchman in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous rocky coast was given enough oil for one month and was told to keep the light burning every night. One day an old man asked for oil so that he could warm himself. Then a farmer came, his son needed oil for a lamp so that he could read. Another needed some for an engine. At the end the watchman saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry. That night the beacon was dark and three ships crashed on the rocks. More than one hundred lives were lost. The light house attendant explained what he had done and why. However, the prosecutor replied, " You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. You have no excuse."

What do we learn from the story above, that temptation is a choice between good and evil. However, the more tempting thing is the conflict where one must choose between good options. The light house keeper in our story found himself in such conflict situation. Likewise, are would-be disciples in today's gospel. In such cases the good easily becomes the enemy of the best. One must then say no to a good thing in order to say yes to the one thing necessary. Today's gospel is a sequence of four incidents and encounters with people who could have become followers of Jesus but who were held back by ulterior concerns and motives. Each encounter highlights a different concern.

In our gospel today we learn about such encounters. The first incident  is the encounter between the messengers of Jesus and the Samaritan villagers. The concern that holds the Samaritan back from accepting and following Jesus is patriotism. It well known that Samaritans and Jews were rivals. The Samaritan villagers had probably heard about Jesus and what he was doing and were interested. However, as soon as they learnt that that Jesus  and his disciples were Jews and were heading for Jerusalem, their admiration actually turned into opposition. It is good to understand that patriotism and devotion to the national cause is, of course a good thing. Nevertheless, when nationalism, or ethnic sentiments become the spectacles through which one sees all reality, including spiritual and eternal reality, then one is in danger of losing perspective.

Furthermore, the second incident involves a man who says to Jesus, " I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replies, " Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."( Luke 9:57-58). We can challenge ourselves with this question that why did Jesus say that? Probably because he perceived that here was a man who valued financial independence and security. It is a good thing  to have high economic goals so that one could provide adequately for oneself and for those under one's care. Yet when this stands in the way of wholehearted following and service of God, then something is wrong.

The other scenario, that is the third incident is that of the man who wanted first to go bury his father before following Jesus. Actually the custom of burying one's parents is part of the command to " Honor your father and your mother" ( Exodus 20:12). So this is a man with high moral standards, because he seems to be a man who keeps the law and he is highly concerned for his religious duties and obligations as well, this really is a good virtue indeed. Yet Jesus is saying that we should not allow religious observances and rituals to immobilize us and keep us from following Christ who is always on the move into new territories and new challenges.

The last scenario in our gospel today is an incident whereby the man who wants to go and say farewell to his family before following Jesus.  He wants to follow the example of Elisha( 1st reading) who bid his family farewell before becoming Elijah's disciple. This man has high social and family values. One could only wish that all men could be sensitive to let their families know their whereabouts at all times! Yet before the urgent call of the kingdom of God, social and family concerns take a back seat." No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God"( Luke 9:63).

In the gospel Jesus speaks about a vocation, a call. As we have heard, a man points out that he feels called to follow Jesus. Surely a fine idea! But Jesus does not want this man to have any false ideas: following Jesus is not easy! following Jesus involves making sacrifices, accepting privations, doing things that at times are not very pleasant. Jesus doesn't deceive anyone! He tells us with complete clarity and with concrete examples that there are difficulties involved. Someone truly understanding Jesus' sprit, has put these words into his mouth: " I never said it would be easy; I said it's worthwhile." Following Jesus is worthwhile because the reward destined for anyone who follows Jesus well is eternal happiness.

How can we apply this gospel into our lives as Christians? I once read an article in internet whose title is  What Really is Worthwhile? this article can help us how to live as dedicated Christian disciples of Jesus Christ. I found in the article an author jotted down the following: " Eight values that can enhance one's life: 1. Be wise in the use of time. Here it is not a question of how much time we do have but what shall we do with it. 2. Value work. Is the work vital, strengthening my own character or inspiring others or helping the world? 3.Seek happiness each day. If you are not happy today, you will never be happy! Strive to be patient, unselfish, purposeful, strong, eager and work mightily each day with grateful hearts. 4. Cherish love. True love never complains, it trusts. 5. Keep ambition in check. 6.Embrace friendship. It takes a great soul to be a true friend. One must forgive much, forget much and forbear much. 7. Do not fear sorrow. Disappointment in life is inevitable. Pain is common to all. Sorrow is not given to us that having felt, suffered, wept, we may be able to understand love and bless. 8. Cherish faith. Faith in God will enable us to live our lives effectively, fearless and grandly.

What do we learn from these stories? these stories show that to follow Christ is to follow him unconditionally. We should not remain at the level of following Jesus under the conditions. If we remain at that level we may find ourselves in the same situation as any of these well-meaning but mistaken disciples. We should not regard Jesus as the second optional in our lives. He will be either first or nothing.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us understand that where there is sacrifice, there is love. Where there is love, the Lord is always there. If we decide to follow the Lord, decide now and not tomorrow because tomorrow is still far away. If you mean ' yes', answer ' yes and if you mean ' no' answer ' no' there is no in-between.

Related Posts:


Chapisha Maoni