Never Look Back
1 Kings 19:20…
On the twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are taught to never look back at the life we left behind:
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you.” “Go back!” Elijah answered. “Have I done anything to you?” -1 Kings 19:20, NAB
Elisha was being called to follow Elijah and continue his ministry after he is gone, but Elisha wants to say goodbye to his parents first. He wants to join Elijah, but does not understand that he can never look back at the life he is leaving.
This week’s Gospel tells us something similar. In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus is speaking to His followers:
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:61-62, NAB
This story from the Gospel of St. Luke reflects the story of Elisha and Elijah, and it is a story that continues today. Many of us face this same dilemma. We are called to follow Christ, yet struggle to let go of our current lives. We cannot let go of the past.
Some may think that this means we should abandon our families to radically follow the Lord. In some cases, we may have to leave behind some unhealthy relationships, but that is not Jesus’ primary concern. What Jesus is teaching us is to look ahead to our life with Him and not let the past stop us from moving forward.
However our families fit into our future, the moral of the story is that we must be willing to abandon everything to follow the Lord. We can still love our family and friends, but our love for Jesus has to be even greater. Christ needs to become the primary focus of our lives.
Never look back. Jesus will show you the path to a new life, but it is impossible to focus on the road ahead if you’re constantly looking back at what you’ve left behind.