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The Call to Follow

June 26, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

June 26, 2016
Luke 9:51-62
Fr. George Smiga

As a teacher Jesus occasionally exaggerates to get his audience’s attention. He certainly is doing this today in the gospel. Jesus does not tell us not to bury our parents or to refrain from bidding farewell to our families. He uses these extreme commands to drive home the point that following him is not a casual commitment. As disciples, Jesus expects us to change the way that we live. He calls us to adjust our lives for the sake of the gospel, to act in a way that others see a witness to our connection to him. Jesus wants our time and our loyalty. He wants us to act in a way that others see that we belong to him. Giving such witness has power.

We certainly saw this this week as our city celebrated the Cavaliers’ NBA championship. Over a million people changed their schedules, canceled appointments, took off from work, got up early, and stood in the sun for hours because they wanted others to see the joy that they felt about what happened to our city. It wasn’t easy. It took effort. But people did it because they wanted other people to notice that what had happened to them was important, that it mattered.

Jesus challenges us to act in a way that others see that our connection to him matters. When we come to church, Jesus challenges us not simply to sit and daydream but to listen to the word that applies to our lives, to join in the prayer of the assembly, to open our mouths and sing. And if we say, “Well, I have so much on my mind. It is so difficult to focus. I really don’t have a good voice,” Jesus says, “Follow me.” When someone is struggling with a sickness or a heavy burden, Jesus challenges us to be his presence to that person, to reach out and try to help. And if we say, “I really don’t know that person that well. I am shy or introverted,” Jesus says, “Follow me.” When we recognize what is going on in our country, when we hear words that use fear and hatred to manipulate others, or when self interest is exalted instead of service, Jesus challenges us to speak out his message. His message is generosity, community, and justice. And if we say, “I am not that involved in politics. I don’t want to get involved. No one will listen anyway,” Jesus says, “Follow me.”

The most important thing we know about God is that God’s love for us is boundless. That is why Jesus asks us not to place limits on our willingness to announce that love to others. Jesus wants us as his disciples. So let us put comfort and fear aside and follow him.

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