Today we welcome back Fr Paul Gooley who reads from the Gospel of Matthew (8: 18-22) in which Jesus says, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Fr Paul says these two stories about discipleship both stress the demands of responding to the call of Jesus.

We have already witnessed the immediate and total response of the first four disciples.

Now we are given a subtle warning by the approach of the scribe: he calls Jesus, ‘Teacher’, whereas disciples call him ‘Lord’ and interestingly all the disciples except Judas, who at Gethsemane signifies that he is no longer a disciple by calling him ‘Teacher’. Jesus, here, for the first time in Matthew calls himself by the mysterious title ‘Son of man’.

Just as an aside, the word fox should probably be translated ‘hyena’, as no foxes are found in Israel, but hyenas, which in some ways resemble them, are found. The expression is used in Luke chapter 13 (v 32) to describe Herod Antipas, as a contemptible scavenger.

Jesus’ reply to the other person who offers himself as a disciple is disconcertingly abrupt, especially against the Jewish background of devotion to and respect for the family.

Mindful these two accounts and of the desire of the two people mentioned to follow Jesus, Fr Paul says the gospel challenge today calls us to ask ourselves – how do I respond to the call of Jesus?

In closing, Fr Paul also takes the opportunity to thank all those who helped with the Gospel Reflections while he was away on leave.