The Apostles, who left everything to follow Jesus decided to accompany him on his way to Jerusalem. They were angered when a whole community rejected Jesus because his destination was Jerusalem. The Apostles wanted to retaliate, but Jesus rebuked them and moved on to the next village.
As their journey continued, those who were invited to join the disciples offered excuses to remain behind. Of these Jesus said,
“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).
In another place, Jesus says,
“Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.” (Matthew 5:37).
How Will You Respond?
Our decision to follow Jesus must be decisive. If we recognize the urgency of this decision our answer will be yes. As we see in the Gospels, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew left everything and immediately followed Jesus. We should pray that what they recognized in Jesus, we also will recognize. This does not necessarily mean we will leave everything, though some will. It does mean that we recognize Jesus as the Son of God and our savior and he commands us to follow him with great urgency and not at our convenience. If our answer is yes it will be reflected in the decisions we make and in the happiness we experience. If our answer is yes we will spend time in prayer every day because we want to be connected to God and receive his help and guidance. If our answer is yes we will want to frequent the sacraments of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist because we need the grace Our Lord makes available to us through the sacraments.
We may be tempted to respond like those in the Gospel who were invited to follow, but were unwilling to make the commitment. Certainly, our life will be different if we follow our Lord faithfully. He does not promise that we will not have trials; however, he promises he will be with us when we experience those trials and will give us the grace to preserver. He promises happiness, hope, and peace for those who follow him.
He Calls Everyone of Us
How many people have Jesus called to follow him? Of course, we are all called. That doesn’t mean that everyone here is called to be clergy or religious, though some are, it does mean our lives should be different because we follow our Lord. If you are a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, technician, secretary, teacher, housewife, or any other profession we are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. If we truly follow Jesus, we will not be the same as others who share the same career because we will be changed by the grace we receive from the sacraments and by our commitment to daily prayer. If we follow Jesus, the decisions we make will be influenced by our faith.
When we read the lives of the saints we see that they came from every walk of life. Some had a longing for God at a very early age and others didn’t make that discovery until later on in life. However, everyone who became a saint was inspired either by a personal encounter with God or the saints or by someone who was striving to live a life close to God. Sometimes it is an extraordinary experience that can awaken in us a desire for a more meaningful life that can only be satisfied by drawing close to God. Our Catholic faith makes available to us an abundance of opportunities to enter into an intimacy with God that will be life-changing if that is the desire of our hearts. As an example, there have been men and women who knew nothing of the Catholic faith and by chance attended a Mass and were so moved by the beauty of the Church and the liturgy that their lives were changed forever, and they became Catholic.
He Equips The Called
It would be interesting to know how many lives have been touched by the presence of Jesus in our adoration chapel. I am not aware of anyone who heard the voice of Jesus while sitting in his presence, but many have shared how the time they spent in the chapel was one of their most rewarding experiences. Just to sit in the chapel is an act of adoration and a testimony of our belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Next to our salvation, the greatest gift Jesus has given us is the gift of himself in the Holy Eucharist. There is nothing more important in our life than receiving our Lord in this holy sacrament, and yet it can become routine if we do not properly prepare ourselves through the sacrament of reconciliation and by having a prayerful disposition. It is for this reason that we have the hour fast from everything except water and medicine before attending Mass to remind us that we are moving from our normal routine into a supernatural experience. This is also why we have holy water at each entrance so that as we bless ourselves, we ask our Lord to cleanse and prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.
How To Seek Continual Conversion
There are things that we can do that will draw us out of our routine of complacency. Experiencing a retreat weekend can stir up our hearts, but there is always the danger of falling back into our old routine if we do not follow up that experience with a commitment to make the necessary changes that will help us to draw closer to God. We all have to undergo continual conversion. Through the ages pilgrimages to holy sites have been a way to discover deeper spiritual meaning and intimacy with God. A pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1984 changed the lives of my wife Mary Jane and myself forever. We had been routine Catholics, but two weeks of visiting the places made holy by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ awakened us to the true meaning of our faith and our responsibility to live and share it.
If you are a routine Catholic, like we once were, God has a better plan for you that will take you out of your normal routine when you say yes to his invitation to follow him as a faithful disciple. Jesus wants to be the reason you do what you do, and he promises he will be with you always and will give you the peace and happiness that can only be found in a relationship with him.
As Bishop Fulton Sheen used to say,
“Life is worth living.” However, it is only in Jesus that we live it abundantly.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.