to follow

Mar 4, 2021

“Blessed are they who trust in the LORD,
    whose hope is the LORD.
They are like trees planted beside the waters
    that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
    its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
    but still bears fruit”. Jeremiah 17:5-10

Here’s a great pick-up line, the one that Jesus uses with his first disciples: “Follow me”.

The remarkable thing is that anyone did follow him, and that over the centuries many have followed. In our own time we and many others are following.

We are followers.

It is in the nature of the human person to follow. Every one of us follows someone or some thing. Perhaps we have a hero or two or three who have qualities that we admire and seek to emulate.

There are also ideas and goals we follow. And if we don’t make a decision to follow some one or some thing we will (without knowing or intending it) find ourselves following the fickle fashion of the crowd.

Whether we like it or not we find some one or some thing to follow. Much better that we make a decision about the one or the thing, otherwise we become just like the crowd.

I have used before the great quotation of the young Italian Carlo Acutis: “All people are born as originals but many die as photocopies.”

Too often it’s the crowd that we compulsively follow; the crowd of family, friends, political correctness or worldly success.

When I sensed that Jesus was using that “come follow me” pick-up line with me, I felt as though I was being drawn away from the main-stream of human patterns, passions and pre-occupations.

The call to follow Jesus Christ felt like a call to a lonely place and a big part of me was resistant. What healthy person wants to be lonely?

When I would hear the gospel passage of Dives and Lazarus I had no desire to be poor like Dives. But I also did not want to end up like the rich and eternally sad Lazarus.

Too many days I spend too much time and energy trying to find a middle way thinking that if Jesus is really loving and forgiving (this is the way my sad mind works sometimes) the fact that I don’t follow 100%, with all my heart, soul, mind and understanding, won’t be a problem for Jesus…

…And then I realise that during my rudderless wanderings Jesus is gazing at me with love.

Jesus is also seeking the return of my gaze but accepts that my half-heartedness, my trying to acquire worldly treasure and prestige, even my resistance, is where I am at the moment. During this Jesus waits patiently.

Then I realise that to the extent that I resist or try to build up my treasure of securities and successes on earth, to that extent, I am not happy.

The sad thing about rich Dives (rich not only in money but also in power, prestige, ability etc) is that Dives’ earthly existence was not all that happy either.

The compulsive battle to build up and maintain earthly successes is a sad existence, and the one who lives this way on earth may find themselves in this trap for eternity.

On a visit to the Philippines a few years ago I spent time among the poorest of the poor of Manila. The children in the picture live (many of them without parents) under sheets of tin and ply foraging for food along with dogs and rats.

I had met a couple of young people (from France & Vietnam) who had given their lives to live among these poor and each day they would visit the neighbourhood to read to the children. As they walked into this part of the slum the word of their arrival spread as the children called their names and ran to us, clinging to us, full of need and affection.

These children have nothing. But the looks on their faces show that in fact they not only have enough, they have everything.

I want to spend eternity with them.

An Invitation.

  • As you read this reflection, how do you sense Jesus speaking to you? Spend a few moments now staying with that sense.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks John,
    Your words speak to my ❣

    Reply
  2. Thanks John
    Beautiful, inspiring, calming and calling. Your words speak to of God’s power in my life.

    Reply
  3. Thank you Father. We seek not the things of this world. Amen

    Reply
  4. Thank you for this reflection. It made me think of what Rosa Parks once said: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

    Reply
  5. I watch the wildlife,
    They do not stress,
    all is provided.i am listening
    To the busyness of cars continually
    Back and forth,with the hustle bustle
    Of daily living,I saw a lady
    ‘earlier today’s get caught up in the traffic and hit by a car. This afternoon,The Fire Sirens are now going,and I look back to the wildlife,Peacefully going about their day.
    GOD,wants us, to have HIS peace,
    Not the ‘worn out peace’We Give
    Ourselves.
    Reading ‘To Follow”- I stopped
    Trying to multi task,and I need to
    remember that daily.
    Thankyou Fr John.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for the quote from Carlo Acutis. An inspiring young man.

    Reply

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