Well, let’s clear up a few things in the gospel first – about these three men invited to follow Jesus who seemed to put it off because of other pressing concerns. Their requests seem very reasonable, and Jesus’ insistence they come immediately seems a bit uncaring.
But the man who wanted to go and bury his father first – well his father wasn’t actually dead yet. The man who wanted to say ‘goodbye’ to his family – well, that was actually asking for months of transferring assets, properties, responsibilities, legal arrangements and more. As for the man who would follow Jesus anywhere -well, Jesus is telling him to ‘get real’. This is no Peter Pan adventure for idealistic teenagers we’re talking here.
That said, on this feast of St Francis, we remember a man who actually did all the above and left everything to follow Jesus, leaving even his clothes behind as he walked naked from the marketplace. Francis had fallen in love with Jesus and nothing else mattered.
Well, we too can fall in love with Jesus, but that actually means that EVERYTHING else matters.
And one of the things that did matter to Francis was rebuilding the Church (and caring for the universe, of course! But that’s another reflection!). Nehemiah, in the first reading, begs the King to let him go home to Israel to rebuild the Temple. Today the great Synod begins in Rome. Lay people, pope, bishops, religious – all wanting desperately to rebuild a Church that is real for our fragmented world. (Surrounded today, just by the way, with the “No” voters who are also deliberately holding a special meeting today in Rome to say the Synod is leading us into heresy, – sowing their divisive misinformation. Sounds a bit like the Referendum!)
So, let’s pray for the Synod, pray for Pope Francis -so aptly named – and do our bit to be ‘church’, to be Christ, wherever we find ourselves today. Let’s at least make the church real’ in our own small neck of the woods.
Tom McDonough CP is the parish priest of St.Brigid’s, Marrickville.