Jesus said, “Follow me.” But that one said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
—Luke 9. 59-60
Don’t worry, anxious one. There is still a place for decency, for honoring family, for social customs that extend care to others. Jesus is not banishing these things. It’s just that sometimes the customs and costumes wear thin and you can see right through the fabric, see the holy beneath it. And there comes a time when you just don’t bother with the costume. You leave behind expectations; you abandon what you think you “ought” to do. You let go of what you can’t control anyway. Yes, you loved your father, but he’s dead. You can’t do anything for him now, only for the living. So you turn away from everything but what God is doing in you. You disentangle yourself from a family and its thick web, its worn story and your narrow little place in it, and find your place in your own life— yours, not that of your parents, your ancestors, and a lot of dead people. Yes, it feels rude to separate yourself so fully, especially from family. But your life is yours, not theirs. You are no less connected to everyone else. Your “loved ones” include all living beings. Among them you have no heritage, no birthright, no legacy to fulfill— nor do you need any. You have whatever good news burns in you right now. You have who you are, which is noble and holy enough, and you have God’s blessing. You are beheld, not beholden. Your life, your passion, your Gift is immediate, present, eternal— not mediated by anyone living or dead. And you are called to love the living, whom you can love, not the dead, whom you cannot.
Jesus is not inviting you to stop caring for your loved ones. He is setting you free from depending on others to be yourself. You are free. Live your calling. Let go of what you cannot control. Go and let the living presence of the Holy One radiate from you.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes