By Christopher Wells
In his reflection at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis pointed out three figures Christ meets in the Gospel, which “highlight what is required of those who desire to follow Jesus.”
The first figure is generous, and promises to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus responds that the Son of Man “has nowhere to rest His head,” but is always on the move. The Church, similarly, is called to always be in motion. “Our mission cannot be static, but is itinerant,” the Pope said. The Church, he explained, is called to go along all the paths of the world in order to arrive “at the human and existential peripheries.”
When another would-be disciple asks permission to bury his father, Jesus replies with the “deliberately provocative” words, “Let the dead bury their dead.” With this reply, the Pope said, Jesus “intends to affirm the primacy of following” the Lord, and of “the proclamation of the Gospel.” This, he said, requires promptness and full availability.
Finally, the Pope takes up Jesus’ response to a third person, who desired to say goodbye to his relatives before following the Lord. Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plough and looks back… is fit for the kingdom of God.” With this answer, the Pope said, “Jesus excludes regrets and looking back, but requires the virtue of decisiveness.”
These three “conditions” of discipleship are not meant to be a series of “noes”. Instead, they are meant to emphasize “the principle objective: becoming a disciple of Christ.” This, the Pope said, is a “free and deliberate choice, made out of love, to reciprocate the inestimable grace of God, and not made as a way to promote oneself.” Jesus, he continued, “wants us to be passionate about Himself, and about the Gospel” – and passionate in a way that results in concrete actions of love toward our most needy brothers and sisters.
At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father noted the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and offered a prayer that their encounter might be one more step along the path of peace – not only for Korea, but for the whole world.
He also wished workers a restful summer, and offered prayers for those who are suffering most from the summer heat, especially the sick, the elderly, and those who work outdoors.