Read Nehemiah 2:1-8, Ps. 137:1-6, Luke 9:57-62

“No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

In today’s Gospel passage, we find three examples of persons responding to God’s Call. A man came to Jesus saying: “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus wanted this man to know that serving God is not a job. It is a vocation that requires detachment from earthly riches. Jesus told this parable: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

In the second case, Jesus called the man: “Follow me.” Unlike the first man, this man did not think he was good enough. His excuse was: “Let me go and bury my father first.” We do not know if he had just lost his father or if he meant that he wanted to settle his family affairs first. Jesus said: “Leave the dead to bury their dead.” Meaning: “Anyone whom God calls must make the ministry his sole priority.” Sometimes, persons called to ministry try to run away from God like Jonah, but then, is there a place to run from God?

The third case is a mixture of the above two. Here is a person who wants to serve but has two minds. He is like the seed sown among thorns. This man said: “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at home.” Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” In other words, you cannot serve two masters. Anyone who has dedicated his life to serving God as a minister and pursuing material riches is like someone who puts his hand on the plough and looks back. He is like someone carrying an elephant on his shoulders while trying to catch a cricket with his leg.

While the above three represent direct calls to ministry, the fourth case is indirect, and we find an example of it in our first reading today. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king Artaxerxes. Despite being a Government official, Nehemiah was very prayerful and passionate about the fate of Jews. One day, the king noticed his countenance and asked about the matter. Nehemiah seized the opportunity to request for the rebuilding of the Temple that had been destroyed during the exile.

The saying goes that “some give to the mission by going while others go to the mission by giving.” You don’t need to be a priest, a pastor, a prophet, a bishop, etc., to serve God or to contribute to the building of His kingdom on earth. Consider your present occupation as your vocation. Do not only be concerned about your salary; use your connections to promote God’s kingdom.

Like Nehemiah, you may be a politician or a government official but do not be ashamed of the Christian faith. Remember Jesus said: “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33).

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, deepen my commitment to you. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saint Francis of Assisi. Bible Study: Nehemiah 2:1-8, Ps. 137:1-6, Luke 9:57-62).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu