Do we follow Jesus now or after we are good and ready?
by Sister Agnes Fischer
Today’s Gospel doesn’t leave much, if any, wiggle room. It won’t let us turn away from the people and situations that are right in front of us or the future that is coming to us. On the one hand we say, “I will follow you wherever you go.” On the other hand we say, “But first let me go and ...”
It’s easy and simple to follow Jesus, in principle. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemy, welcome the stranger … I suspect we are all in favor of love, hospitality, forgiveness, and nonviolence until we meet the unlovable, the stranger who scares us. Then it’s a different story and that story usually begins with, “But first ...”
- Yes, I will love the other but first let me go and see who the others are, whether they are deserving of love, whether I like them, whether they agree with and are agreeable to me.
- Yes, I will open my door to and welcome the stranger but first let me go and see who’s knocking, how different they are from me, what they want, what I am risking.
- Yes, I will forgive another but first let me go and see if they have acknowledged their wrongdoing, are sorry for what they did, and have promised to change.
- Yes, I will give to and care for another but first let me go and see why I should, what it will cost me, and what’s in it for me.
- I wonder what our lives and world would be like if we were to love, give, welcome, and forgive without a “but first?”
It would be risky and scary and look pretty crazy. But as we look at the world, read the news, and listen to the lives and stories of others, the world is already risky, scary, and crazy. So what if we took a better risk, faced a better fear, and lived a kinder craziness? And what if we were to let that start with you and me, today, in our lives, and with whoever or whatever is before us?
What if we were to lead with our hearts and not “but first"?