What's the difference between an explanation and an excuse? Judging by our behavior, the answer is simple.
If it comes out of my mouth, it's an explanation.
If it comes from someone I don't like, it's an excuse.
We have explanations for what we do. Other people are just making excuses.
Today's reading revolves around the deadly word "but." Each person in the readings says they will follow Jesus, and in the same breathe rescind the offer with a "but.". "I will follow you anywhere, but..." Each of them has a reason why they can't follow Jesus immediately.
Is there a desire to follow Jesus in them? Yes. But what their hesitation reveals is that there are other things they desire more. Human nature is funny in this regard. When we really want to do something, we will find a way. And when we don't want to do something we can always find a reason not to (explanation or excuse).
Today's reading leaves us with a question that forces us to look into the very center of our heart, "How Christian do we really want to be?"