We see Jesus' exigency in today's Gospel. A man says he will follow Jesus anywhere. Jesus reminds the man, that while foxes have dens and birds have nests, he promises no earthly security. Another man wants to follow Jesus, but only after he has buried his father. That's not a bad thing. In fact, to care for one's father is very good, but you cannot put even that duty ahead of Jesus. Family is the greatest good here on earth, but we cannot put family ahead of Jesus.
There's a paradox in all this. If a person makes family his greatest value, he will eventually lose his family. Do you remember the Godfather movies? They showed a man who would do anything for his "family", including even theft and murder. In the end the Godfather destroys his own family. Now, you and I may not be tempted to the same corruption as the Godfather, but if we put any person ahead of Jesus, we will lose that person. On the other hand, if we put Jesus first, we will do the very best for the ones we love.
Jesus tells us that once we take the step of faith, once we decide to follow him, we cannot look back. Pope Benedict stated this forcefully at the conclusion of the Year for Priests. At an evening vigil, before the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the pope addressed thousands of priests. Of them, five priests, representing the five continents, each asked the Holy Father a question. One of the questions was about priestly celibacy.
After speaking about the priest's identification with Christ, Pope Benedict noted that many people today criticize celibacy. "In a certain sense," he observed, "this continuous criticism against celibacy may surprise, in a time when it is becoming increasingly fashionable not to get married.” The Holy Father then said that "this not-getting married is something totally, fundamentally different from celibacy.” The reason for not getting married could be this: to avoid any "definitive tie.” The person might fear losing their "full autonomy," that is, having no restrictions - being able to decide at any moment what one wants to do. Celibacy - and marriage - is the direct opposite of this. It is, as the Holy Father stated, "a definitive 'yes'. It is to let oneself be taken in the hand of God, to give oneself into the hands of the Lord."
That's what Jesus tells us today when he speaks about those who are "fit for the kingdom of God.” The person fit for the kingdom says "yes" to God; he puts Jesus first. Once again, the bottom line is this: Jesus will accept the tiniest step, but he will not rest until we have given him our totality.