Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt 6, 33)
The die is cast, or better, the time designated by Providence is being fulfilled: Jesus resolutely determines to journey to Jerusalem to face his destiny. Setting out, he takes an irrevocable step.
Without taking a similar step, we cannot really be followers of Jesus. To follow him means to burn our bridges, to cross the point of no return. Like his Teacher, a disciple does not turn back from what he has set out to do. Not even in his heart can he drop what he has started: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks back to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The kingdom that Jesus ushers in and makes present is so eminent that it demands total dedication. Everything must be sacrificed for the sake of this treasure or pearl of the highest value. Jesus thus forbids every concern and every attachment that may distract us, even in the slightest, from our pursuit of the kingdom. He rebukes his own lest they allow themselves to be delayed—the kingdom is also imminent—by racist and vengeful animosity that also goes against his teaching about love of enemies and doing good to them.
No, there is no time to waste. Such imminence likewise asks that we adjust to the providential schedule of the kingdom. The invitation has to be accepted right away and without any reservation. To set any condition is to waste time and would amount to turning the invitation down, as though one were not aware of something done to him that served as calling.
And let those who want to accompany Jesus know that he promises neither comfort nor security. To walk with Jesus has nothing to do with settling down in a comfortable house of “honorable retirement” by the side of loved ones—something that occupied the young priest, Vincent de Paul (Coste I, 18). Rather, to be on a journey with Jesus means being a zealous and tireless missionary who goes from place to place, preaching the kingdom and healing. St. Vincent would later both grasp and live this, of course, already freed from—among other distracting and blinding concerns, attachments and sentiments—the “bothersome passion” to improve the lot of his relatives (XI, 136, 445; XII, 218-219; Abelly III, 177-178).
Needless to say, we are not few, those of us Christians who keep looking back. We even leave Jesus because we find his teachings unacceptable and have a difficult time freeing ourselves from ambitions and self-interests that prevent us from possessing Christian freedom and constructive and liberating love.
Surely, we have not explicitly denied Jesus, but do we not do as those disciples who went back to their nets and boats? Does not our former way of life still fascinate us? Do we not turn away from our Christian destiny just like the disappointed disciples on their way to Emmaus?
So then, may Jesus make our hearts burn. But first, we have to welcome the stranger to our journey and to our table. The one we welcome will open our eyes as we share our bread: we will recognize him; we will understand that there is no resurrection without death and that blessed indeed are those he identifies with, namely, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, the persecuted, all of them on the way to destiny.
Ross Reyes Dizon