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A Place to Rest
Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, I want to follow you. Guide me away from those things that I falsely deem more important than following you: possessions, status, entertainment, worldly distractions. Help me, by my example, to encourage others to follow you as well. Amen.
- What Is a Follower?: Our faith holds that each of us—lay people, the ordained, and the consecrated—have a vocation. In the root of the word “disciple” is the word “discipline,” and this is what Jesus asks us for in this Gospel passage. He admonishes us to keep our focus on the Lord and his Kingdom. Our love for everyone else, including those in our families, schools, workplaces, and communities, should overflow from that first calling, a love that consumes our whole heart (Mark 12:30).
- What Is Meant by Rest?: Jesus reminds a would-be follower that “the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Jesus did not mean this literally because other passages in the Gospels (Luke 2:7, Mark 4:38-40) show Jesus resting or sleeping. Jesus meant that our commitment to the mission, the work he gives us, will require our undivided attention and effort every single day. If we wish to follow him, our discipleship will require detachment, focus, and discipline.
- Clearing the Path: Jesus’ unnamed interlocutors, each in his own way, raised family obligations as reasons for delaying the beginning of their mission to follow the Lord. Jesus’ answers indicated that those obligations do not suffice as excuses, and even can keep us from “proclaiming the Kingdom.” Should we shirk our duties? No. Instead, it is of primary importance that we stay close to Jesus and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, discern his will in every moment so that when choosing between two goods, we align ourselves with what Christ is asking of us. Spiritual direction can help with this process of discernment.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you desire for me to follow you. Clear my own pathway to your Kingdom: help me to distinguish between those things that make it easier to follow you, and those things that make it more difficult. Help me to encourage others to stay focused on your Kingdom.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will renew my commitment to follow you more closely. I will offer a daily examen to help me discern your will in all things.
For Further Reflection: “Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he lives by his bond with God.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 44.
Dorothy Warner is a Washington, D.C., area writer, who also works in technology and has a family. When not gardening, volunteering, or baking artisanal breads, she enjoys spending time with her husband, grown children, and a large collection of family pets.
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