HEAR AND FOLLOW JESUS
It was winter. Jesus was walking along, passing through Solomon’s Portico, one of the open air galleries that surrounded the esplanade of the Temple. This portico, actually, was a favorite place for the people, since it apparently was protected from the wind by a wall.
Suddenly a group of Jews surround Jesus. The dialogue is tense. They bombard him with their questions. Jesus criticizes them because they won’t accept his message or his deeds. Concretely, he tells them: «You don’t believe me because you are no sheep of mine». What does this metaphor mean?
Jesus is very clear: «The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life». Jesus doesn’t force anyone. He only calls. The decision to follow him depends on each one of us. Only if we listen to him and follow him, do we build up a relationship with Jesus that leads to eternal life.
There is nothing so decisive for being Christian than to make the decision to live as a follower of Jesus. The great risk for Christians has always been to pretend to be one, without following Jesus. As it turns out, many of those who have drifted away from our communities are persons that no one has helped to make the decision to follow his footsteps.
However that is the first decision for a Christian. This decision changes everything, because it is the beginning of living in a new way the attachment to Christ and the belonging to the Church: to finally find the path, the truth, the meaning of and the reason for Christian faith.
And the first thing needed to make this decision is to listen to his call. We don’t put ourselves on the path of Jesus footsteps by following our own intuition or our own desires to live out an ideal. We begin to follow him when we feel ourselves attracted to and called by Christ. For that reason, faith doesn’t consist principally in believing something about Jesus, but in believing in Jesus himself.
When this following of Jesus is lacking, and isn’t cared for or reaffirmed over and over again in our heart and in the believing community, our faith runs the risk of being reduced to an acceptance of creeds, a practice of religious obligations and an obedience to Church discipline.
It’s easy then to stick with religious practice, without allowing ourselves to be challenged by the calls that Jesus makes to us in the Gospel that we listen to each Sunday. Jesus is within that religion, but we aren’t drawn to his footsteps. Without realizing it, we get used to living in a way that‘s routine and repetitive. We’re lacking creativity, the renewal and the joy of those who live committed to following Jesus.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf