“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
Our Gospel passage today presents us with three examples of persons called to ministry. One came to Jesus on his own declaring his intention to follow Him. Another Jesus himself called to follow but wanted to bury his father. While the third wanted to follow Jesus but at the same time said needed to say farewell to his family. From these three persons, we learn some important lessons about ministry.
One, ministry should never be considered as a career or a money-making enterprise. To the man who came on his own wanting to follow him, Jesus said: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). It was necessary for Jesus to let him know that ministry demands carrying a very huge cross. To those He sent out to preach, Jesus would say “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.” (Luke 10:4) Anyone whose attraction to ministry is material wealth, luxury or comfort is clearly mistaken.
Two, ministry demands one’s complete devotion and total commitment. To the man who gave the excuse of going to bury his father first, Jesus said: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60) Bear in mind that this man wasn’t asking for permission to attend a burial ceremony, he needed to go and settle everything about his family before coming to do God’s work. Celibacy frees the minister in that it allows him to “let the dead bury their own dead.”
Three, ministry is not about what you want but what God wants. To the man who wanted to first go home to bid farewell to his family. Jesus said: “no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). Once you say “yes” to God, you lose the right to say “no” later. God needs people who can forego their personal will. This is the reason the minister takes the vow of obedience.
To obey goes beyond merely taking instructions, it is primarily about subjecting one’s will to that of another. It is being able to say: “I am no longer in charge of myself.” Without this willingness to do the will of God rather than your own will, ministry can result in frustration. Indeed, if we summarize the three statements of Jesus, we come to one conclusion: Following Jesus comes at a cost. If you cannot pay the price, then you don’t deserve the prize. As Jesus would say: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to live by my vows and commitments as I follow you daily. Amen. Bible Study: Job 9:1-16, Psalm 88:10-15 and Luke 9:57-62).