The Gospel Today
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano):
There was an instance before in an Athletics competition in the Olympics where an athlete was a fathom ahead of her closest competitor. Towards the end of the race, around 30-40 meters away from the finish line, the runner ahead kept on looking back at the athlete behind her. Lo and behold! In the last stretch, she was overtaken by the athlete that she kept on checking who eventually got the gold medal while she had to settle for the silver.
Just like athlete, the would-be followers of Jesus in the Gospel today also keep on looking back. They had decided to follow Jesus wherever He will go but they are occupied with their personal affairs- “they look back to what was left behind”. As in a race, I know I have to be firm in my commitment to finish it no matter what the cost. I must remain focus on the trail ahead and never be engaged with the affairs of the past.
I realize that if I keep on “looking back”, I might be distracted from my personal journey and lose my attention to my goal: to be with Jesus. Looking back on what I left behind such as relationships, missed opportunities, dreams and wishes, etc. might keep me off-track, and even cause delays in fulfilling my following of Him.
A year ago, myself, together with three other batch mates, we entered the seminary with our hearts set on following only Jesus. And responding to the call of Christ through this vocation entails leaving behind many things and in addition, making painful sacrifices. After a year, I realize that we left behind those matters not because we decided to just lose them, or simply detach or even forget about them. It is just that following Christ leads us to tread on a new track and it moves us to give our utmost priority to Him. Not looking back is not synonymous to forgetting the past but in committing myself more boldly to “finishing the race” that I have chosen: this vocation. Not looking back means living in the present faithfully and not looking back to “what ifs” or “what might have beens”. I have to set my eyes fixed solely on Jesus. It is in the steady and forward strides that would somehow lead me to fulfilling His will.