†††††††††††† †††††††Put a Hand on the Plough, But, Donít Look Back!††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† | Anthony Udengwu |† ††††
††††††††† ††††In saying that ďNo one who puts his hand on the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of GodĒ (Lk. 9:62), Jesus makes the case that total and unalloyed commitment to Godís work is a desideratum for discipleship. He shows that one must put aside all distractions and weights - material, economic, spiritual - that cling so closely, and which might constitute an obstacle to answering the great call to follow Him. In the First Reading, Elisha, in deciding completely to follow the prophet Elijah, ďtook the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate Ö and set out and followed Elijah, and became his servantĒ (I Kings 19:19-21). Elisha knew that the yoke of oxen which he slaughtered would have constituted an obstacle to his following Elijah if he didnít kill them; he also was aware that they would have distracted him from complete allegiance to his master in the work of God if he didnít put them aside. So, he, not only killed those oxen with the equipment from the oxen, but† also, use them for food, meaning, complete extermination of all potential obstacles to this great task he was about to undertake. Not to have slaughtered those oxen would have, someday, caused Elisha to look back while putting a hand on the plough (which, here, means the work of God); and Jesus hates that because such attitude (that is, to look back when one is engaged in Godís work) could disqualify one from entering the Kingdom of God.
††††††††††††† Whenever anyone engaged in the work or life of God looks back in negative reminiscence, it is possible, sometimes, that person is in danger of, not only regretting his or her salvation, but also, trying to go back to the sinful habits he or she left behind to follow Christ. So, in order not to go back to those sinful habits, the follower of Christ (that is, the person deciding, or who has decided, for Him) should, as a matter of urgency, gather up and demolish every instrumental factor to those sinful habits, by way of willful and resolute rejection. Doing so is necessary in order not to compromise either oneís salvation or the reign of God. Because to work for the kingdom of God is an essentially important undertaken, Jesus advises against anything whatsoever - that is, intra-mental or extra-mental objects, attitudes, or behaviors from the person deciding, or who has decided, for Him - that might distract him or her as he or she engages in Godís work; He does this because this work demands absolute attention. The rationale for such demand is because Jesus died to take us to that Kingdom; and this Kingdom, this reign of God must be advanced even in this earthly life. Advancing the Kingdom of God is a work that needs consistency, determination, attentiveness, planning, goal-setting, forward-ever backward-never type of commitment, thoroughness, etc. On the other hand, it does not admit of laziness, procrastination, lethargy, shabbiness, lukewarm attitude, indecision, insouciance, unnecessary complaint, complacency, play-safe mentality, self-abasement, selfishness, distractions, betrayal of self or God, culpable ignorance, irresponsibleness, lack of commitment, mundanity, lack of trust, loss of hope, living a life of sin or the flesh, divided attention, worries, friendship with the world (a life that is opposed to authentic Christian spirituality), lack of focus, dangerous family ties, levity, carelessness, etc.
††††††††††††† The fact that everyone, one way or the other, is guilty of betraying God by word, action, or inaction, as well as by not paying deserved attention to Him and His work whether in the home, office, or church does not make it right to do so. Condemnation offered by Jesus in relation to such attitudes shows one has to shun whatever could lead to non-resolute advancing of Godís Kingdom by what one does or says, or fails to do or say.
††††††††††††† In freedom, we have to work to be fit for the Kingdom of God! One of the most interesting features of Jesusí words is their ability to arrest the mind, and then, accord freedom and resiliency to both body and spirit! By complying with His words - words by which we have been shown what we could do to avert danger - we can enable our minds, spirits, and bodies to be arrested, resiliently made-up, and, freed completely. For our freedom, Jesus came and died; in and for freedom, humanity got saved. Jesus does not free the mind He has not arrested. We can feel arrested by Christ, and then, feel freed by Him! This explains why, for anyone to be saved or freed by Christ, he or she must have been arrested by Him and made to appreciate Godís work by putting his or her hand on it, resolutely. Praise the Lord!
†† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††© Copyright 2005. Rev. Fr. Anthony Udengwu.
All Rights Reserved.
†† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††© Copyright 2005. Rev. Fr. Anthony Udengwu. All Rights Reserved.