“Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.” These words make some people cringe, and yet we know Our Lord didn’t mean for us to take them literally. Does he really expect us to leave the corpses of our loved ones to rot while we go off and preach the Gospel? Does he really want us to show such callous disregard for the people we love? Of course not. Like other teachers of his day, Our Lord used extreme statements like this to make a point; he wants to make it perfectly clear that he wants us to take the call to follow him seriously.
Our Lord wasn’t telling this chap not to bury his father. How could he? The Mosaic Law placed a high value on this solemn act. Rather, he wanted this would-be disciple to set his priorities in a different way. Our Lord wanted to see him make his call the first priority, and to let everything else in his life fall in line behind this.
Our Lord asks the same thing of us. He wants us to be faithful disciples, he wants us to be faithful to our respective vocations and He doesn’t want to hear excuses—even noble ones like burying the dead—to convince us that discipleship is too hard for us.
Now if you’re feeling a bit guilty that you are not following Jesus as fully as possible, relax. The fact that you put on the habit this morning for the umpteenth time shows that you’re being serious about following him. Being at Mass today is an opportunity to take one more step along the straight and narrow path that leads to life.
Seek first the kingdom of God, and everything else will be given to you.