When Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
There is something fascinating about wanderers. While the rest of us hang around a few familiar places, hugging the walls, these free spirits wander wherever their fancy takes them. We would love to have the freedom of the tramp under the bridge, but the price of it is the surrender of security. We would love to have both - freedom and security - but they are incompatible. We don’t want to join the free spirits, but our imagination goes with them. We become restless in an ineffectual way, like farmyard chickens in the migrating season. Better to take one real step, even a short one, than to fantasise about going to the ends of the earth.
“Leave the dead to bury their dead.” It sounds heartless. But we mustn't be too literal; Jesus spoke a poetic language. There is a sad history of unimaginative literal interpretation of the Scriptures. In this case, surely, the man’s father was not dead, but perhaps elderly; and the man was asking if he could wait till after his father’s death. No, said Jesus, come now! Postponement becomes a habit: after his father’s death he would find another reason for delay, and another….
He is saying to us: if you want to be free, be free now!
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