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06.26.2022 Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Spring Ploughing”

Edvard Munch


Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionistic art.

In the years following Munch's hospital stay the artist removed himself from the lifestyle of carousing and heavy drinking and devoted his days to his art and to the countryside of his homeland.

While at one time the artist referred to his paintings as "my children", by this time he began referring to them as "my children with nature".

This new-found inspiration, in the form of farm hands, animals, and the Norwegian landscape, took Munch's art in an entirely new direction, one celebrating life and work, rather than anxiety and loss.

In Spring Ploughing, one can see the inspiration Munch took from the much younger Franz Marc -whose Expressionist Paintings were originally inspired by Munch - who had a penchant for painting animals in their natural surroundings.

Munch’s period of creating truly original Symbolist-cum-Expressionist works had since passed, indicated by similar works of this time and their innocent subject matter. Nevertheless, the maturity of this painting's brushwork and palette clearly demonstrate the hand of a master.

Oil on canvas - Munch Museum, Oslo.


Luke 9:51-62

51“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,

Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked,

‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’

55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.

56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him,

‘I will follow you wherever you go’.

58 Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests,

but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’.

59 He said to another man, ‘Follow me’.

But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father’.

60 Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead,

but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God’.

61 Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord;

but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family’.

62 Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’”.



This Gospel section begins, as did the preceding one at Nazareth[1], with a rejection of Jesus. The incident provides the initial momentum that will ever more forcefully impel Jesus to face rejection and death at the hands of His own people.

Jesus determines to go to Jerusalem. His commitment in the face of the danger in Jerusalem helps us to understand the demands that He will place on would-be followers in Verses 57-62.

This is the only place where the Gospels mention Samaritans negatively. Luke gives favourable treatment to Samaritans in the Parable of the Good Samaritan[2], in Jesus’ later relationship with a Samaritan Leper[3], in his ministry to a Samaritan Woman[4] and in his inclusion of Samaria in his charge to his Disciples[5].

Jesus rebuked the disciples.

Rebuked (epetimesen) is a strong word. Elsewhere in the Gospel of Luke Jesus rebukes demons[6] and fevers[7] but never Disciples. Jesus responds strongly to James and John because He has instructed them to love their enemies and not to judge others.

Jesus has also given the Disciples explicit instructions on how to deal with rejection. When rejected, they are to shake dust from their feet as a testimony against the rejecters but are not to respond with violence or vengeance. James and John failed to listen.

Jesus Calls to Follow

This passage is an important piece of the story of Jesus and the way of life He calls His Disciples to. In this passage He interacts directly with three would-be followers of Him.

These interactions do have a parallel in Matthew[8], but the context is somewhat different in Matthew and there are only two encounters.

The first and third would-be disciples volunteer to follow Jesus -the only people in the Gospel of Luke who so volunteered.

Jesus calls the second of the would-be disciples, saying, “Follow me.” The second and third would-be disciples ask leave to take care of other priorities before beginning their discipleship. The first would-be disciple makes no such request, but Jesus apparently sees in him some lack of commitment that occasions a warning.

The words of Jesus to 3 would-be followers

1. Before you follow me count the cost.

This man’s commitment seems strong. He offers to follow Jesus “wherever,” but Jesus offers only “nowhere”. Jesus has no hole, no nest, and nowhere to lay his head, -and His disciples can expect nothing better.

Jesus was being honest in how He pitched his demands -He does not trick anyone into following Him, He wants total dedication. There seems a high cost to pledge to Jesus but one that makes all the difference in the world.

2. The words Jesus sound harsh but, in all probability, the man’s father was not dead, but the man was saying could he wait until his father had died. The point Jesus was making was that in everything there is a crucial moment and if that moment is missed the thing most likely will never happen. Act at once when our hearts are stirred.

3. This is a truth which no one can deny. Jesus did not ask the third man to follow or return, but that He accepts no lukewarm service and left the man to make his own decision. Ploughing for the Kingdom entails sacrifice and one cannot look back.

The response of Jesus shows that He expects the young man to give Jesus priority even over his father, an almost unthinkable requirement. A dutiful Middle Eastern son does not put anyone above his father -except, perhaps, God. That is the point, of course. Jesus acts by God’s authority and expects the kind of devotion that we reserve for God.

Jesus is calling us into question and that is never easy, fun, or comfortable. He is calling into question the direction of our life, the values we claim to hold, and how we are living and embodying those values.

He is asking us to look at ourselves rather than the Samaritan on whom we would like to call down fire from heaven. Jesus recognizes and holds before us the tension in which we live. On the one hand we say to Him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go’. On the other hand, we say to Him, ‘But first let me go and …’.


“Lord, you are all-knowing and full of wisdom.

Your plan is masterful.

Help me as your disciple to follow you in every thought, word, and deed.

Give me a heart of obedience and trust

that I would not get wrapped up in my doubt or what I think is the right choice.

Help me to recognize that your good and

perfect will does not always look the way I think it should,

but that does not make it any less good or any less perfect.

I desire to be your disciple and follow you all the days of my life.

Please give me the strength to do that. Amen.


* Jesus did not exclude anyone. What might this mean for me in my life? Might there be anything or anyone which is holding me back from letting God be first and in charge of my life?

* Jesus asks for commitment – real commitment. The time for it is now. On our own road today, we must proclaim the Kingdom of God. If we keep waiting for the right moment, the sands of time will run quickly through our fingers.

* On my side is the invitation to follow Jesus. But do I think of myself as his follower? My daily prayer helps me to keep God always in view, to listen to his voice and to deepen the relationship that exists between us. Thank You for this graced time.

* What has been the ‘cost of discipleship’ for me? What has been the richness and gift of discipleship for me?

* Jesus is drawn to those who hear him. He brings the nourishing gift of eternal life. He draws his own life from the Father. To follow him is to be drawn into the mystery of their life. This is what happens, in faith, at the heart of our prayer.

* Jesus calls us as we are and where we are. His invitation is to ‘follow him’. And we can do so from the context of our lives. The only thing He asks is to ‘follow him’. That means having a heart like his, a heart that is compassionate and caring.


[1] Luke 4: 14-30 [2] Luke 10: 25-37 [3] Luke 17: 16 [4] John 4 [5] Acts 1: 8 [6] Luke 4: 35, 41; 9: 42 [7] Luke 4: 39 [8] Matthew 8: 18-22

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