Fr Bob writes : As we begin a new parish and school year, we remind ourselves that we are on a journey, a journey that has as its goal the kingdom of heaven. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is also on a journey.
Luke begins his gospel account with the infancy narratives of Jesus (chapters 1 – 2) followed by Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (chapters 3 through 9:51). Then in 9:52 Jesus “sets his face” for Jerusalem. The remainder of the gospel recounts that journey to the goal of confrontation leading to the victory of the cross and resurrection. Jesus knows where he is going and what lies ahead. The reader is invited to join Jesus on that journey as we symbolically place ourselves within the great crowd that travels with him.
Jesus turns and addresses the crowd in our gospel passage this weekend. The word “turned” adds a lot to this passage. It implies that Jesus had been pondering things over in his mind for some time as they walked along. He wanted to challenge the crowds’ motives for following him. He wanted them to be sure they were ready to complete the journey with him. He had to stop to turn around. Things came to a halt.
We also need time to stop and consider where we are going in this Christian journey. The Greek word which is translated as “turn” also means to “convert.” Jesus turns physically to challenge his followers to conversion. He uses images from construction and warfare to encourage those who follow him to calculate what one needs to do to complete the journey, mindful of the sacrifices and dedication necessary. If being one with Jesus now and living eternally in heaven are among your goals, what do you need to do?