“Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” -Matt 18:22
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we are called to something greater than our responsibilities here on Earth. We are called to Him and nothing here on earth can fill that void.
It sounds shocking and insensitive to tell a mourning man to let the business of his father’s funeral be left alone, but the back-story is that this man was genuinely looking for a reason to delay his service to Christ. It’s something we do a lot in our daily lives, and even more especially if the commitment to Christ is a life long vocation to marriage or religious life.
Two weeks ago, I heard a friend say, “You know, I’m Catholic but I’m just not sure there really is something after death.” I asked her if she ever feels like there is something more to life or if she feels totally satisfied all of the time? Of course, she responded no. Philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft tells us that we are unable to reach complete satisfaction in this life because we are made for something more. The argument from desire states that our desires correspond to something which can satisfy it. Hunger corresponds to food. Sexual desires correspond to sex. But we never feel fully satisfied to the point of never feeling need again. That is because our ultimate end is not death of the body, but life after.
I proposed that my friend and I take a walk down to the Church of the Gesu (pictured above) which is attached to the home of St Ignatius of Loyola. I told her that St. Ignatius, a man who fearlessly dedicated his life to the conversion of Protestants back to Catholicism, died on that top floor. There was something very real about being present at that location which gave us both strength. For we knew that a man of great honor and certitude entered into death happily from that very spot.
In today’s Gospel, we are called to Christ without delay. That decision can be to follow him today by avoiding sin, or it can be the call to a specific vocation in life at the time God calls us to enter into that. When Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead,” He is calling that man to leave behind the empty void in his life and to fill it with his true calling.