The Gospel according to Matthew (8:18-22)
When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other shore. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, 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.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
Opening Prayer: My glorious Lord, You walked through this world in poverty, rejection and suffering. You had no earthly home of Your own but now live in the riches of Heaven. Help me to follow You, dear Lord, wherever You lead me in this life.
Encountering Christ: Why do you follow Jesus? It’s important to consider your motivations at times. Some choose to follow Jesus because this was simply the way they were raised. Others do so because it makes them feel better to do so. And still others do so because they think it will make their lives better in various ways. But what is the ideal motivation for following our Lord? The ideal motivation for following Jesus in a total and unwavering way is very simple. We follow Him because He is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. He came to call us to Himself and has invited us to live in union with Him through faith. So ideally, we will follow Jesus simply because it is the right thing to do. We will not do so because of the so-called benefits.
Are you willing to follow Him into poverty, detachment from all, simplicity of life and ultimately the sacrifice of your entire life? Do you truly understand what it means to be a follower of Christ Jesus? Do you understand that following Jesus cannot be done for selfish reasons? Do you realize that saying “Yes” to our Lord is saying “Yes” to His Cross?
First of all, note that Jesus neither accepts the proposal of the scribe to be His follower nor rejects it. Rather, Jesus simply makes a statement which clarifies just what is involved in being His follower. Some Church Fathers suggest that this scribe was desirous of following Jesus because he thought there would be great rewards given to him by doing so. After all, Jesus was a miracle worker, was becoming quite popular, and showed potential to be a great leader. Therefore, the interior motivation of this scribe to follow Jesus wherever Jesus went was a questionable motivation. Did he want to follow Jesus because he thought it would benefit him in some worldly way?
Jesus’ response to this scribe does two things. First, it removes all misconceptions of what it means to follow Jesus. If the scribe wanted to follow Jesus, then he had to be prepared to follow Him into poverty and homelessness rather than riches and possessions. Jesus wanted it to be clear to the scribe just what he was choosing. Secondly, Jesus’ response was certainly an invitation to the scribe to follow Him, but only in the light of this new knowledge. In other words, Jesus was saying, “Yes, come follow me. But be aware of what that means. Following me will not result in your earthly riches but in your earthly poverty.”
Love, in its purest form, does not love the other because of what we get out of it. Pure love is a gift given to another because they are worthy of our love. And with Jesus, He is worthy of our love and worship simply because of Who He is.
Closing Prayer: Lord, if You lead me to worldly poverty and suffering, I thank You. I thank You and choose to follow You no matter what. Give me the grace I need to follow You purely out of love for You, for You are God and are worthy of all my praise and worship. Jesus, I trust in You.
Action of the Day: Consider Jesus’ life and reflect upon whether you are willing to follow Him to the poverty of the Cross.