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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Here I Am, Lord


“As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, ‘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.’ And to another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ But he answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ And another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ To him Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62).
 
When we are young and idealistic, we often find ourselves able to say with genuine enthusiasm, “I’ll go with you anywhere, Lord! Here I am, Lord, send me.” The first apostles dropped their nets and responded immediately to Jesus’ invitation to “follow me”.
 
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the first apostles thought their kingly Messiah was riding in triumph to claim his earthly throne. But it didn’t take long for the glory of Palm Sunday to become the terror of Good Friday. His followers scattered in fear. Peter, his chosen representative, denied his master three times. The apostles could not keep their promise to follow him wherever he would go.
 
Jesus’ sobering words to Peter should be sobering to us as well: Someone will “lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). The enthusiastic early promises we make are purified through suffering. Like Jesus and Peter, God will lead us where we would rather not go. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded in terror, “let this cup pass from me…” (Matthew 26:39). But Jesus was quickly consoled by God’s Spirit of Love, so that he could yield himself completely to his Father’s will, “not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Realizing that Jesus knows full well the fearful reality of embracing the call to sacrificial love, we can pray in confidence for the grace to follow him to the cross, and through the cross to Easter and the fullness of life.
 
If the fearful Peter, who denied his master three times, could be brought by the power of the Holy Spirit to embrace death by crucifixion, perhaps we can endure those lesser forms of persecution that we may experience when we say our “yes.”
 
– How do you respond when God leads you where you would rather not go?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.
 
Illustration by Eugene Salandra.

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