LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD
(Monday, July 3)
“Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” (Mt 8:21-22)
Ouch! Our Lord’s harsh response to this disciple, who wanted to “first go and bury” his father, is shocking. But let’s consider, first of all, that the father was probably not physically dead yet, because it was the custom in that region to bury the dead within hours of their death. So, the disciple would not even be here, had his father already died. The disciple was saying, I will follow You after my father is out of the picture. Second, – in any event, – Christ is saying what He knows is good for this specific disciple, for whom it is good, *not* to procrastinate about following Him at this time. The Lord also knows something we don’t, about this disciple’s family-situation, in which “the dead bury their own dead.” There are others in this family, who can take care of the disciple’s father, and who, for whatever painful reason, are already “dead” to Christ. Neither the disciple nor his family gain anything, from him remaining attached to their circle of the walking dead. Now was the time for this disciple to “go and preach the kingdom of God,” as St. Luke says in a slightly-different rendition of this case (Lk 9:60).
Here is another blow to “family values,” and to prioritizing them as the primary focus of our cross-carrying journey. While we do not recklessly abandon or neglect our family, when it is our vocation to take care of them, in certain cases and moments we are called to “let the dead bury their own dead.” Lord, grant us the wisdom to know the difference.