June 26, 2016
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Luke’s gospel (9:51-52) invites us to reflect on the ways in which we follow Jesus. Some of the disciples offered a variety of excuses not follow Jesus. After all, following Jesus lead them into strange lands with little resources and little food after they had already left their livelihoods and families. Following Jesus was not easy, seemingly with little reward.
One disciple used the excuse that he had to go and burry his father first. Jesus insisted that once you have your hand on the plow, sure enough, you must continue on the journey. Don’t look back. Keep focused. Never tire. Jesus demanded a lot from his early followers. The gospel of Luke wanted to make sure that people were getting the message of Jesus because the gospel writer Luke thought for sure that Jesus would come back to the earth the second time in his day and age. Luke wanted to make sure that everyone was ready.
We have lots of excuses not to follow in our day and age. “I need to spend more time with my family.” “My work schedule is crazy.” “I am divorced and the Church doesn’t want me anyway.” “I am gay and people don’t accept me and why should I bother with Jesus.” I will pray more when I retire. I will be more active when my children get in school.” Our excuses are many and varied. Our excuses tell us much about priorities, our future plans and ourselves. However, all we need is to seek God and the Holy Spirit will take of the rest.
One of the reasons why we hesitate following Jesus more is that we have been hurt in the past. Our prayers have not been answered, at least in ways that we wanted them to be. We grieve the loss of a child or a spouse and our prayers for healing never worked and the community still avoided speaking with us and supporting us. We carry within our fragile hearts the many excuses that keep us from fully entering into the mystery of our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus seem pretty demanding in this text because he is trying to get his followers to understand that nothing stands in the way of our primary relationship with him. Nothing. No parent or death. No work or position. No other identity other than being a Child of God and learning to follow the life and gift of Jesus. This message takes time for us to hear and realize. This message comes at us full force when we would rather seek other plans.
I invite you as you enter into your summer plans, to take some prayerful time this summer and to examine your priorities about following Jesus and being part of the Church. We need you in the Tri-Community. We want the best for you. We desire to support the stranger as well as the parishioner. Jesus wants you close to his heart so that you may know his mercy and kindness, that you may understand with you full heart that love is real and hope is not something abstract in your life.
Jesus want us to be fit for the Kingdom of God even in this warning in today’s gospel. He desires us to follow unreservedly, with hope to bring the world. Let go of the excuses to pray. Become hope filled in your prayer. Be patient as God’s calls you closer to himself. Jesus treasures us and loves us all.
Here are some thoughts for you to let go of your excuses:
My usual excuses about not praying, about not following Jesus seem to be______
I know if I hold on to my excuses about not drawing closer to God, then God will not ask much of me so___
I fear being close to God’s love because___
I feel more comfortable with my work, kids and life and I really do not have time for prayer because it usually gets in the way of____
I wish Christians could accept me because I struggle with___
I want to know Jesus and I am lost about how to get there so I ______
Jesus, do not abandon me today so that I ____
Blessings to all of you,