Jesus reveals that His disciples must be willing to give up everything to follow Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Virtue of Hope so he can trust in God’s protection while prudently pursuing worldly security and by building the Virtue of Duty so he can strive to always bury the dead with a reverent Catholic funeral. 

Liturgy

13th Week in Ordinary Time – Monday – Mt 8:18-22

Commentary

Following His astounding Sermon on the Mount, Jesus demonstrates His miraculous power by performing ten stupendous miracles (Mt 8:1-9:38). After healing the Centurion’s slave, Peter’s mother and “all who were sick”,  Jesus instructs the disciples to prepare a boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. At first glance this seems odd; a crowd gathers and Jesus leaves. But Jesus does not neglect the crowd, nor does He need “breathing room”; Jesus is leading those willing to follow Him on His first foreign mission, a deliberate action to teach the disciples to push off into the unknown and cut all ties for the sake of the Gospel. 

Before departing across the Sea of Galilee, a scribe, an expert in Jewish law who had rigorously studied scripture since boyhood, calls Jesus, “Teacher”, a high honor, especially because Jesus is a carpenter with no worldly scripture pedigree. The scribe, likely having heard Jesus’ magnificent Sermon on the Mount, has found the Messiah he has longed for His whole life; he is willing to leave everything to follow Jesus. Generously, Jesus responds to the scribe with the history-changing revelation that He, is the “Son of Man”, a title for the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus offers the scribe only Himself, for having voluntarily exiled Himself from Heaven to save mankind, He lives in abject poverty.   

The disciples of Jesus must “cross over” into the unknown, totally abandoning everything and holding fast only to Jesus. Jesus’ blunt response to the disciple who asks for permission to bury his father (“Let the dead bury the dead. Follow Me”) is not a rejection of the sacred duty of men to bury the dead (Gen 50:5, CCC 2447; a Corporal Work of Mercy); Jesus, perfectly keeps the requirements of the Law and the Prophets. Rather, He is symbolically calling men from death to life, making it clear men must make an absolute commitment to follow Him to receive salvation. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be impressed with the Physical Strength, Stamina and Toughness of Jesus: prepared by decades of strenuous labor as a first century carpenter (builder), during three years of public ministry, Jesus kept a grueling schedule and traveled extensively on foot (some suggest Jesus walked 25,000 miles, the circumference of the earth); Jesus reveals He has no home to “lay His head”, confirming He often spent nights, sleeping on the ground out in the elements. 

Hope in God and prudently pursue worldly security

Realize: Many men zealously seek security through career, property, money, health insurance, etc.; while prudent, endlessly accumulating and becoming attached to material things only offer false hope and distract men from pursuing the true hope found in God’s love and protection. 

Believe: Reflect upon Poverty of the Heart (CCC 2544-2547, 2559).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Hope so I always trust You completely to care for my true needs, and guide me to prudently pursue worldly security in accordance with Your Will.

Bury the dead with a reverent Catholic funeral

Realize: Some Catholics gravely sin and cause scandal by denying the Catholic dead the dignity and graces of being buried in consecrated ground in a Catholic funeral, instead, desecrating the body through unholy pagan rituals (e.g. spreading of ashes).

Believe: Reflect upon Sacramentals and Christian Funerals (CCC 1667-1690).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Charity, help me build the Virtue of Duty/Responsibility (a part of Justice) so I do my duty to perform the Corporal Work of Mercy to Bury the Dead (CCC 2300) according to the firm teachings of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church.