LISTEN TO HIS VOICE AND FOLLOW IN HIS FOOTSTEPS
The scene is tense and conflictive. Jesus is walking through the Temple precincts. Suddenly a group of Jewish people are around him, accusing him in a threatening manner. Jesus isn’t intimidated, but rather openly reproaches them for their lack of faith: «You do not believe because you are not of my sheep». The Gospel writer says that when Jesus stopped speaking, the Jewish people took up stones to kill him.
In order to prove that they aren’t of his sheep, Jesus dares to explain to them what it means to be of his own. He underlines two aspects, the ones that are most essential and indispensible: «My sheep listen to my voice… and follow me». After twenty centuries, we Christians need to remember anew that what is most essential about being Jesus’ Church is listening to his voice and following in his footsteps.
First we need to awaken the capability of listening to Jesus. We need to develop much more sensitivity in our communities, a sensitivity that is alive in many simple Christians who know how to latch onto the Word that comes from Jesus in its complete freshness, and to vibrate with God’s Good News. John XXIII said on one occasion that «the Church is like the old fountain of the village, from whose spout would always be flowing fresh water». In this Church, twenty centuries old, we need to allow the fresh water of Jesus to keep flowing.
If we don’t want our faith to go on progressively weakening in decadent forms of superficial religiosity, in the midst of a society that invades our consciences with messages, slogans, images, sound bites, talk shows of every type, we need to learn to put in the center of our communities the living, concrete and unmistakable Word of Jesus, our only Lord.
But it’s not enough to listen to his voice. It’s necessary to follow Jesus. The time has come to get off the fence and decide whether we want to be content with a «mediocre religion» that eases our consciences but suffocates our joy, or learn to live our Christian faith as the passionate adventure of following Jesus.
This adventure consists in believing what he believed, giving importance to what he gave importance, defending the cause of human beings as he did, drawing near to the defenseless and the invalids as he did, being free to do the good he did, trusting in the Father as he did, and confronting life and death with the hope that he confronted them with.
If those who go around lost, alone and confused can find in the Christian community a place where they can learn to live together in a way of more dignity, solidarity and freedom by following Jesus, the Church will be offering to society one of her best services.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf