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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Reflection 2020-09-30 Wednesday 26th Week in Ordinary Time – St Jerome

Job 9:1-12, 14-16; Psalm 88; Luke 9:57-62
In the Gospel today, Jesus lays down the criteria for being his disciples. For the first one, who voluntarily said he will follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus responds: Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. This means that Jesus does not own anything and he goes where the Father leads him. The second person in the Gospel is called by Jesus. This person told Jesus he will go and bury his father first. There is nothing wrong with this because this is expected of people at that time. In response, Jesus tells him Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God. The common interpretation of this is Jesus calls this man to abandon his father and follow him. But is Jesus saying that? With the response, Jesus is telling the man, while burying his father is a pious act as a sign of respect to his father, proclaiming the kingdom of God should be the first priority. This is also our first priority. However, this does not mean that we can neglect our responsibility to our families while we go away to “do God’s work”. We still need to make sure our families are fed and cared for. But the caring of family should be part of our proclaiming the Gospel. Our families are a great field to proclaim the Gospel. So when we go, and proclaim the kingdom of God, we first go to our families then we go out to the world. St Jerome commented that preaching should be bold and not hidden through fear. He also said we are called not to the impossible but to be perfect.
The last person also volunteered to follow Jesus but asked for permission to say good bye to his family. Jesus replied, no one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Jesus is telling him, once he comes, there is no turning back. While this is about following Jesus, this also is about our sins. Once we follow Jesus, we cannot go back to our sins.
So three men, three lessons to learn. Following Jesus requires total abandonment to him. It also requires putting our priorities right without neglecting our responsibilities. It also means no turning back. Jesus is more valuable than anything else and he is worth whatever we give up for him. Job asks How can a mortal be just before God? No one can stand before God. Even this call to serve him is a gift from him. But we need to respond. One question stands out about the three men in the Gospel. What was their response? Did they follow Jesus? Or did they leave? Luke did not say, so it is up to us to make the conclusion. When the call comes to follow Jesus, what is my response? Do I go with him? Or do I turn back?
Lord Jesus, let me not turn away from your call. Give me courage to surrender to you and trust you. St Jerome, teach me to have that love for Scripture so I may know God and love him and trust him.

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