“All Aboard!!”

 

            Today we meet Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.  The Gospel reading begins a unique section of the Gospels, found only in Luke, where Jesus' face is set like flint to go to Jerusalem, the place of His suffering, death and resurrection.  Jesus can not be bothered with whether or not the Samaritan villages on the way accept him.  Nor does He have time to indulge James and John with a display of his power by sending fire upon these villages.  He has a clear mission: to proclaim the Kingdom of God through His suffering and death.  He needs only one thing: loyal followers who will continue to proclaim the Kingdom after his mission is complete.

 

            By using the device of the Lord’s journey to Jerusalem, St. Luke encourages Christians to look at their lives as a journey with the Lord.  This journey can be  rigorous, “foxes have lairs, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head.”  But the journey has a purpose.  We travel to that place where our lives have meaning.  Each of us was created with the ability to bring a unique reflection of God to the world.  The journey isn’t to a place.  The destination is to a state of existence where we are all that God created us to be.  We do not journey alone.  Our traveling companion is the One whose presence makes our hearts burn.  We walk with Jesus.

 

            Also in today’s gospel reading the Lord confronts a man He meets on the road who wants to put off the call to follow until later in his life.  First having to bury his father means that the man wants to wait several years, perhaps many, until he is ready to join Jesus. The only trouble is that Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem now.  He calls now.  If the man does not follow, then the Lord is going to pass him by.

 

            There is no deferred enlistment with the Lord, like there is with the Army.  When we feel the need to come closer to him, to perform a Christian service for someone else, to stand for our moral principals, that is the Lord calling us to follow him now.  It is easy for us to say, “I'll do it later.”  The trouble is that very often later never comes.  By then the Lord has passed us by as he journeys on the road to making his kingdom a reality.  And we have missed the opportunity to follow.

 

            I’m sure we all can look back on our lives and find a whole host of should-have-dones. Perhaps we never visited a sick neighbor.  Then that man or woman died.  Perhaps we allowed our children to talk us into letting them do something we didn't think was proper.  Then we were faced with a major battle, forced to take something away that should have never been there.  Perhaps we wanted to set aside time every day for prayer, but never got around to it.  Now we feel spiritually drained.  We can all look back on the times that we didn't answer the Lord's call.

 

            At the same time, being concerned about the past doesn't get us anywhere now.  We need to focus on the present.  How is Jesus calling us to follow now?  How can I be a better Christian today?  What does the Lord want from me?  How can I be kinder to my wife, husband, children, my parishioners?  Do I have the courage to stand up for him, for the faith, for his way of life, for Christian morality? 

 

            Today’s Gospel is a call to Christian action.  But the Lord is not standing on a corner calling.  He is walking towards Jerusalem.  He’s more like a conductor calling out at the train station, “All aboard.”  If we don't listen and join Him, we’ll miss the train going to Jerusalem.  If we let Him pass us by, we will never get to that place where our lives have meaning and purpose.