Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Follow Me Not!

An increasing number of baptised people are shying away from their faith commitment and this has been the topic of discussion for some time.  In the context of evangelisation, many ideas are floated to address the erosion of the practicing Catholics.  In recent years, Sydney has been warming up to Sherry Weddell’s ideas.  Her catch phrase is “Intentional Discipleship”, and there is a book with the same title to her credit.  She concludes that the problem with Catholic Church today is that though many are baptised as ‘cradle Catholics’, not all of them intentionally follow the Catholic religion.  Therefore, what we need is disciples of Christ who deliberately intend to be so.

Someone, intending to become a disciple of Jesus, approached him and said, “I will follow you wherever you go” (Lk 9:57).  It should have been music to anyone in the ministry of evangelisation, because that man seems to be an “intentional disciple”.  Anyone engaged in missionary work would be inclined to encourage such an aspirant to the Christian way of life and religion.  But, surprisingly, Jesus’ response was different.  Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Lk 9:58).  This sounds like Jesus saying, “You would have no hope following me”.  The question is why did Jesus turn him away?  Through this response Jesus was teaching something about the fundamental nature of “Christian Discipleship”.  To become a disciple, one needs to be ‘called’.  Jesus calls people to be his disciples and waits for their response.  It is a two way process.  When someone is invited to follow Jesus, a positive response by the aspirant is required to become one. “Call” and “response” are two basic ingredients of the true ‘discipleship’.

The Christian discipleship is no walk in the park.  To follow Jesus, who resolutely went to Jerusalem to ascend on the Cross, one needs to have a total and undivided dedication.  The demands of the discipleship are steep. It demands a disciple to give Jesus primacy over even the family relations.  Jesus told the guy who wanted to wait till after he had done his duty of burying his father, “Let the dead bury their own dead”.  To the guy who wanted to bid farewell to his home people, Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand on the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God”.

The call to the discipleship can come in strange ways.  One such example is the story of the movie “Father Stu”.  Stu, who had no religious upbringing or inclination, finds, at the end,  his call to be a disciple of Christ through a girl he loved.  There are many such stories of God’s mysterious call to discipleship.  You too may recount strange or mysterious ways in which God has called you to be a committed Christian.  The more you are aware of the way God called you, the greater your faith commitment will be.  The world today needs to hear how God has called you and what a wonder it has been.