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Liturgical day: Wednesday 26th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Neh 2:1-8): In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. As I had never before been sad in his presence, the king asked me, «Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart». Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king: «May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been eaten out by fire?». The king asked me, «What is it, then, that you wish?». I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king: «If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it».

Then the king, and the queen seated beside him, asked me how long my journey would take and when I would return. I set a date that was acceptable to him, and the king agreed that I might go. I asked the king further: «If it please the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah; also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park, that he may give me wood for timbering the gates of the temple-citadel and for the city wall and the house that I shall occupy». The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.
Responsorial Psalm: 136
R/. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. On the aspens of that land we hung up our harps.

Though there our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs, and our despoilers urged us to be joyous: «Sing for us the songs of Zion!».

How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.
Verscicle before the Gospel (Phil 3:8-9): Alleluia. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 9,57-62): As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, a man said to him, «I will follow you wherever you go». Jesus said to him, «Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head». To another Jesus said, «Follow me». But he answered, «Let me go back now, for first I want to bury my father». And Jesus said to him, «Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them and proclaim the kingdom of God». Another said to him, «I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family». And Jesus said to him, «Whoever has put his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God».

«Follow me»

Fr. Lluc TORCAL Monk of Santa Maria de Poblet
(Santa Maria de Poblet, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel invites us to mull over the central point of our faith, in a clear and insistent way: the radical following of Jesus. «I will follow you wherever you go» (Lk 9:57). How easily can one suggest something that may completely change a person's life!: «Follow me!» (Lk 9:59). Our Lord's words admitting no excuses, delays, conditions or betrayals...

Christian life demands this radical following of Jesus. Radical, not only because it must be guided, all the way, by the Gospel (hence, to the last days of our life), but, mostly, because all their aspects, from the most extraordinary to the most ordinary ones, want to be and must be the manifestation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ inspiring us. In fact, since the day of our Baptism, our life is no longer that of just any person: we carry with us, in our body, the life of Christ! Because of the Holy Spirit instilled in our hearts, it is no longer us who live, but Jesus Christ who lives within us. This is what the Christian life is like, because it is Christ’s full life, because it exudes Christ from his deepest roots: this is the life we are called to live.

When the Lord came to this world, «all mankind had its place, but He did not have one: He had nowhere to go amongst men (...), but to the barn, amongst the beasts, the animals, and the more innocent and unassuming people. This is why he says: ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’» (St Jerome). The Lord will find his place amongst us, if we, as John the Baptist did, let Him grow while we lessen, that is, if we let grow He who already lives inside us, while being ductile and obedient to his Spirit, the source of all humility and innocence.