Time is the issue this weekend. God tells Elijah to go tell Elisha he's his successor now. Elisha wants to say goodbye to everyone, and Elijah says, "Not good enough. Come now." Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem and invites a bunch of people to follow him, and they all have reasons why they can't come right now:
- The Samaritans heard they were going to Jerusalem and "would not welcome him". They weren't even willing to give him the time to hear him out. Like those annoying marketing calls we get, the moment we hear that pause on the telephone that tells us a computer auto-dialer has patched the call to a telemarketer, we hang up before we hear the message. But James and John aren't so innocent here, either. They're not looking to spend the time preaching the Gospel to the Samaritans; they had their shot and they refused. Now the "Sons of Thunder" want to live up to their name.
- "Let me bury my father first". No, Jesus wasn't being cruel. Dad wasn't dead, in fact if the kid in the conversation was about 17 then dad's about 36: probably decades from death. The man wants to live his life and enjoy it, and only when he's bored with it will he catch up with Jesus. For years now, Catholics have been hearing the stewardship mantra of "Time, Talent, and Treasure" hammered into them again and again. This can be deceptive, since it can lead us to believe that we dictate the terms in our relationship with God (eg - "I'll sing in the choir, but I won't visit the sick.").
- "Let me say farewell to my family at home", again, the 'no' sounds like another unreasonable demand by the Lord. But Jesus never said the guy can never see his family again, and his "home" may have been miles away. The analogy of the plower looking back making crooked lines is great. We live in the world of "Monday morning quarterbacking" and playing the "wouldacouldashoulda" game with our lives. A trip home may have resulted in mom and dad laying pressure on the son to not leave his secure life in order to follow Christ. In the words of Yoda, essentially Jesus says, "Do not 'try'; either do or don't do."
Sometimes God gives us a "time out" in which to think (He gave one to Paris Hilton lasting 23-days!). For us, maybe it's a traffic jam, or a car in the shop that strands us at home, or maybe some sickness. We can all find the time to see the latest movie or stand on line for the latest tech gadget. What about finding time to pray or read or do an apostolic activity?