Following Jesus Christ

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 8:23 – 9:3; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4: 12-23

Deacon Larry Brockman

Do you hear Jesus calling you?  And are you willing to drop everything and just follow after Him like the two sets of Apostles in the Gospel?  And just what does it mean to hear the call and follow after Him?  

 In the reading from Paul to the Corinthians, Paul is preaching against divisions among the people of God.  These are people who have heard the call and have converted to Christianity in the budding Church of the first century.  However, these people are choosing between one person’s message and another’s- in fact, three different people are mentioned, presumably with three different emphases.  But this doesn’t mean their messages are mutually exclusive.   Nevertheless, this has caused discord among the people- divisions; because people just naturally want to keep it simple.  They want to believe that they have got it right and others have got it wrong.   

Certainly, our times are like that.  We are a generation with serious divisions amongst us.  And there are so many different divisions amongst Christians.  There are literally hundreds of denominations and many non-denominational Christian Churches; and each of them will tell you that they are the ones who have the message right.   

Even within the Catholic Church there are divisions- for example, there are those who agree with this pope and those who disagree with him.   

But one thing is very clear from both Jesus and Paul’s message today:  It is really all about following Jesus Christ.  Now, it matters what Jesus said; but it matters more what He did.  Because when you follow someone, then you are really following after what they do.  No matter how eloquent someone is in their message; if they don’t practice what they preach; well, you’ve got to be wary of their message.   

You know, as I look back over the history of the Church,  I am struck by people who have had a tremendous impact on the Church:  Consider St. Francis of Assisi; Saint Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola; and modern Sts. Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, and John Paul II for example.  All of these people practiced what they preached.  And all of them left a twofold legacy.  First, they all had something to say; but secondly, the primary way they validated what they said was the way they lived their lives.  And the way all of them lived their lives was by mirroring the love of God in what they did. Other people could see that they were special people- real saints; and so many of them developed followers.  So, today we have Franciscans, Jesuits, Sisters of Mercy, and other groups that try to emulate the special charisms f these people had.  But these are not divisions; rather they are people who are mirroring the love of God in certain specific ways.   

The fact is, each one of us is unique, and so we are each called in a different way to follow Jesus Christ.  We can choose to drop everything and follow after the special charisms of one of these special people.  Those who choose this path become priests or nuns or join a religious order.  Yes these people have heard the call and responded to it.  They are particularly blessed for committing their lives in this way.  

 But there is another way.  We can look at the way these special saints embraced the Gospel as a way of life, and do something similar in our lives- the ones that God has given us.  We are doctors, teachers, housewives, factory workers, and yes, even fisherman, and whatever else.  And we are all called to live our lives in accordance with the way of life Jesus showed those first disciples who followed him- by doing the will of God and loving others as self.   

We do it in the kindnesses we show other people; how we take care of our sick and elderly;   How we show our children what is right and wrong; how we reject the secular values that are contrary to Jesus’ teaching;  How we respect the dignity of all human life. 

The world badly needs Christians who publicly do as Jesus did.

And that is what it means to hear Jesus and follow after Him.. 

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