"Teacher, wherever you go I will come after you."
Following Jesus is not a "part-time" deal. It's not summed up by what I do on Sunday. It's not just developing "my prayer time" with Jesus. And, it isn't even about doing good and avoiding evil. In Matthew's gospel Jesus seems to say, in very attention getting ways, that following him is about a radical transformation of our lives and involves a radical commitment.
The mission Jesus has from God is very big. Jesus has been sent to announce God's salvation to the world, and to be an instrument of that freedom from sin and death. Jesus enters our world and our life completely. He doesn't hold back from experiencing our human condition, from entering into solidarity with the most marginalized or those who suffer terribly. He doesn't reject the diminishment and death we all will face. He chooses to be "with us" completely, even to the point of struggling in every way we struggle. And finally, he surrenders by falling into the hands of a loving God, to be raised to new life.
His invitation to follow him is an invitation to enter into our own lives without fear, without holding back, without shielding ourselves from solidarity with one another in struggle. Being his follower will inevitably get us to concrete examinations of how we live our lives. How much "stuff" do I need to accumulate? How much "success" do I need? What kind of life style, fine things, fine wines, travel, do I want to be a part of my life? How could we be his followers without really embracing the poverty that is simply here?
Being his follower will always draw us into reflecting upon our most important relationships. Are they self-sacrificing? Do I give myself to them? Following Jesus will ultimately help me reflect upon the friends of Jesus. Have I befriended, had a special care for, anyone who is poor, marginalized, treated unjustly? Am I an advocate for anyone in need? Do the poor, in any way, benefit from my being a follower of Jesus?
Lord, Jesus, it is so hard to examine our following of you. Yet, today, we thank you that you have chosen us to know you and to come to know your love for us. Increase our desire to "go wherever you go," to choose what you choose, to love those you love. As you give us the graces we need to be more like you, please help us remain with you on your mission. May others know we are your followers, by the love we have for one another."
By A. Alexander