Another rich text: Peter's mother-in-law; the calming of the sea; the demoniac and the swine headed over the cliff. So much rich material and such a little blog...
But in the midst of it all, here is the line that always catches me up short:
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."I have often thought that Jesus would have failed a seminary class in pastoral care. We all know that what he is supposed to say to that disciple is "I'm so sorry, how does that make you feel?" And stop what he is doing to be fully present to the grieving disciple.
I don't say this to be cute, or flippant. As I read it, the point here and in other similar places is the urgency of Now for Jesus. The Reign of God is breaking in and it's about new life - and so if one is more interested in death then that's a choice one makes. But you can't have it both ways. You have to choose.
I see it more often in diocesan ministry than I did in the parish but I saw it there too. We prop up ministries, or congregations, and sometimes even clergy long past their expiration date. And we play the pastoral care card - even as we claim to follow Jesus. We can't just leave the dead to bury their own dead. It wouldn't be nice. What would Jesus do, or as the case might be what would he say?
It turns out that discipleship isn't about being nice. I find it interesting that as long as Jesus is preaching great sermons and healing people the crowds build. But there is another side to Jesus - it's about the hard, narrow path, about taking up one's cross to follow him, about choosing life and meaning it. Now. Not tomorrow or the day after that, but Now.