Luke 9:57-60Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
57 And it came to pass, as they walked in the way, that a certain man said to him: I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 Jesus said to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go, and to bury my father.
60 And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God.
This is one of those harsh sayings of Jesus. He is talking to those who want to be His disciples, but are holding back for one reason or another.
One of the reasons is that one must give up comfort and one's own idea of order to follow Christ. Radical poverty is called for if one really wants to spread the Gospel.
A person cannot be attached to anything physical.
But, what about the second statement of Christ? Does not a son have a duty to bury his father, even in Jewish Law at the time of Christ? We have the example of Tobit, who was considered holy in fulfilling the duty of burying the dead.
So, what does Christ mean?
An over-attachment to the past, to one's family can very well be a barrier to holiness. Those who love Christ, put Him first in life, not second, nor third.
Christ may also be referring to the idolatry of the family, which keeps many Catholics from building community. Christ also may be alluding to a condition of mind, when one escapes facing sin and reality by living in the past. I have written about this many times on this blog "in the past".
Letting the dead burying the dead means moving on, choosing life, not fear or some fantasy of life in the past.
We need to move on from our past sins and not dwell on these. We need to pursue the present, live in the Present Moment, a moment which God ordained for us to live in from all time.