For many of us, the words of Jesus, “come and follow me,” have been a part of our religious memory since we were children. These words are often applied to the beginning of one’s call to follow Christ and yet they remain true throughout the passage of our years. Christ is again and again asking us to “come and follow me” daily, underscoring the reality that discipleship is free and chosen at each moment. Where do you hear his call?
One of the areas we hear him calling, if we are open to it, is the constant call to conversion, particularly in the area of sin. It is not only the call to turn away from whatever is inhibiting our growth in God, but also the invitation to experience his forgiveness once we have turned back. Much of the Christian walk is about yielding to the lead of Christ as he brings us into the full spread of life in God.
We hear his call to follow him when we feel the tug to conform our ways of life, thought or practice to his as he reveals it through his church. He is at this moment encountered as “the way, the truth and the life.” It may be some nudge to conform our relationships or actions of love to how God asks us to live them. It may be the awareness of the need to choose forgiveness of someone who has harmed us if we are ever to experience our own resurrection. It may come within our minds as God asks us to yield and conform our own conception of the faith to the full truths as expressed through the church. This is especially hard when it involves us having to let go of any differences we may have with Christ as he speaks to us through the voice of his church.
The call also emerges within our own intimate world of prayer. Through prayer we encounter Christ bidding us to go deeper with him and to follow him with faith and trust. This invitation is highly personal as he asks us to walk with him through the events of our life which parallel his own. These parallels include our own moments of Calvary where we are asked to sacrifice ourselves for others or carry the weight of some very heavy crosses that we did not seek. It includes the moments of joy where we are learning from him through ongoing study and prayer like on the Mount of Beatitudes. It involves those times when we venture with him into witnessing to our faith in new territories. It is trusting and believing that God is with us and working through us channeling all things into his own ultimate plan of salvation and redemption.
The final invitation to follow him is at the end of life, whether it is expected or not. We are asked to follow him through the door of death into life with the Father forever. We go with him as the disciples we have tried to be throughout our life, faithful and trusting. Trusting that death with him yields an eternal resurrection with him for those who have been faithful to the end.
Opportunities for Holiness
1. Where am I resisting the call to follow?
2. What are the parallels in my life with the life of Jesus?
Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay.