Scripture: A scribe then approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And 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.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)
Reflection: Throughout the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as an itinerant preacher. Itinerancy characterizes Jesus’s mission and that of his followers. Using two sayings he found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found only in Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel), the Matthean Jesus gives two examples that illustrate how the demand to be itinerant also involves leaving everything behind.
The first example uses foxes and birds. Foxes dig dens; birds build nests. In other words, foxes and birds have homes. However, the Son of Man, Jesus in service to humanity, has no home, no bed, and no pillow. The second example concerns the very important practice of burying the dead. Jesus trumps this practice with the following of him. There is urgency to the mission that puts it on the top of the list, and this urgency requires leaving all – home and family – behind and following Jesus.
The word used today is “detachment.” It means to separate oneself from something in order to be attached to something else. In the context of Matthew’s gospel, one detaches from home and family in order to attach to Jesus. There are no contingency plans; the safety of a home and family is forfeited. The praise that one might receive for having built a great house and buried family members is left behind in order to follow the itinerant preacher from Nazareth.
Journal/Meditation: What have you left behind to follow Jesus?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I hear your call to leave all behind in order to follow you. Pour on me the grace I need to face the future without turning back. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.