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"Lord, I will follow you wherever you go"

  • International
  • October 3, 2012
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What did it take to become a disciple, a follower of Jesus?

From what we see in the Gospels, Jesus makes two radical demands of his followers. First, give up all your material possessions, and live a life of complete austerity, as I, Jesus do. Secondly, give up your family completely.

Family was all important in the ancient world ( -- it is so even today, when men and women are more independent), and without family connections one couldn’t really survive in society. Jesus knows this, and yet downplays family, and demands that his disciples leave their near and dear ones and give themselves entirely to the mission of ‘proclaiming the kingdom’.

This Gospel passage gives us three typical questions, and Jesus’s answers.

To the first man who showed his willingness to follow Jesus “wherever you go”, the Master replies: I have nothing that you might call a home. No place of comfort or security, such as even the birds of the air and the beasts of the field possess. Can you live this kind of life? Such indeed was the radical poverty Jesus called his disciples to.

The two other requests from possible disciples relate to the family: “Let me go and bury my father first”, and “Let me first say goodbye to my people at home.” In the ancient world, family values were absolute – filial piety demanded that an eldest son be present at the funeral of his father. To Jesus such values are unimportant. To “announce the kingdom of God” takes priority over everything else. Not only does it absolve one of one’s filial duties, but it demands that one never look back with nostalgia to what has been left behind.

And why was this so? Because Jesus knew better than we, how the love of mother, wife and children can soften our resolve to serve the Lord, and how the desire to help our families makes us cheat, amass wealth and dilute our first commitment.

Circumstances change, and society today isn’t like what it used to be. Still, the demands of discipleship are as stringent, and the call of the kingdom takes priority over blood and kinship.
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