Last week during a morning Mass I was pleased to see Bishop Kevin Boland, who is emeritus bishop of Savannah. Boland was one of the many priests who came from Ireland to Georgia as missionaries in the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s. Bishop Boland taught briefly as St. John Vianney Seminary, which I attended beginning in 1965, and later was appointed Bishop of Savannah, quite an achievement for this talented Irish immigrant.
His homily at Mass was inspired by Luke 9:57-62, where Jesus asks a couple of men to “Follow me”, to which each responds with a plea, one to first bury his father, and the other wanting to say good bye to his family. Seems reasonable, yet Jesus will have none of this, and says “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of heaven”.
Boland recalled his first year at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin, where the President of the school reminded the new students that the front door was always open to leave, but while at the seminary each was to put his hand on the plow. Having some familiarity with farming, Boland explained that the farmer who looks back while having his hands on the plow was liable to go crooked, causing the furrow to be out of alignment, and perhaps ruining the other furrows.
I am also reminded of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33, where Peter sees Jesus walking on the lake and climbs out of the boat to greet him. All is good for a second, until Peter takes his gaze off Jesus, distracted by the wind, and he begins to sink.