Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The tyranny of "to do"

I have so many to do lists, I don't know what to do! And today's Gospel hints that this can be a real spiritual problem. The passage for today consists of three "episodes" of people encountering Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. The first and last volunteer to follow Jesus, and all he does is warn them about how demanding and unsatisfying it will be. We never do find out if they actually follow the Lord or not, but I get the impression that they said the Hebrew equivalent of "Oh, well, yeah. See you around, then."
The middle person, on the other hand, got a very clear invitation from Jesus, the same as each of the Twelve: "Follow me." (Were there supposed to be 13 apostles??) But this one had one last item on his "to do" list. "Let me go and bury my father." Actually, the request was "Let me go away..." Jesus did not respond with gentleness. You can almost see him turn his face back toward Jerusalem as he picks up his pace and says, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go away and proclaim the Kingdom..." He took the same verb (apelthon) and transformed it from a homecoming to a mission.
So today I have to take a second look at my to do lists. Are some of those items taking me "away" from the real mission Jesus has given me?

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