Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, two of the first followers of Jesus. Looking at them, I am reminded that this month – with the Word of Life – I, too, am called to renew my decision to follow Jesus. I find strength and consolation looking at the first group of followers. Jesus chose them! One betrayed Him, another was a traitor, and all of them abandoned Him at the Cross. Yet, He chose them and built the Church on that bunch.
There is a deep sense of freedom, however, in thinking that Jesus knows very well what He was getting into when He chose me to be His follower. I don’t need to pretend to be good in order to follow Him. He knows who I am. This awareness not only makes me feel fully accepted by Him but also allows me to open myself up even more to God’s love and grace. I see this in the saints, too. They all reached a point where they became aware of their own weaknesses and they experienced God’s grace and allowed God to do great things in them and through them. Does it mean that my desire to become a saint can actually become a reality? Well, I hope so; otherwise why would the Church, echoing Scripture, would call all of us to it?
What would happen to us as a Church if we would focus our attention more on this reality: to be followers of Jesus? Would our in-fights stop? Would people actually have the opportunity to respond to this basic call and live out their faith rather than get stuck in what they agree or disagree, etc? hmmm.. I have to do something about this, both personally and in my community. We must all recommitt ourselves to be followers of Jesus. And it must begin with me.
Would this also give us an opportunity to reclaim the Oneness that should be typical ours? The Church is so divided. What a shame! And over what? No wonder the world doesn’t believe in what we do; if Jesus’ call to be One doesn’t work for our Church and with all churches, no wonder people won’t accept the Gospel message. (somehow John 17:21 always seems to come out!).
Things need to change and they will never change if we… if I… don’t focus on following Him. It is walking on His path that He can do what He wants to do. Jesus didn’t write any books or left us with a strategic plan. He just told us to follow Him. Then this must be the plan to follow.
But obviously there is more in this following Him. This path is totally transformative. The first reading launches me into the depth of this mystery: I am transformed into a member of God’s household! WOW, from sinner to “member of God’s family.” Not only this, but I become a little “temple,” the place where He dwells. How amazing is God’s love for us: not only does He call us to Him but He “moves” in us. Love is always unifying.
Now God-in-me reaches all the people I encounter today. It is in the way I love them that they will (I tremble as I think of this) feel loved by God. And this means that every person I meet gives me an opportunity to love God-in-them (which is the theme of this week, to love God and neighbour).
Now I know what to do today: I will love Him in everyone I meet and by choosing to follow Him I will fulfill God’s plan for me. This is going to be a great day!