My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
How many of us wish to follow Jesus? For those of you whom I have met, from the youngest to the oldest, I believe your response would be a resounding, “I do!” When we are born, Jesus already knows each one of us, loves us and calls us to follow Him. From the moment we are baptized, we begin to follow Jesus. Some of you consented as adults to be baptized and some of you were presented by your parents and godparents to follow Jesus and as your family and friends taught you about Jesus, you also continue to follow Him.
Reflecting upon Jesus’ invitation to Peter and his brother, Andrew, their initial response was just like ours. “They left their nets and followed him (Mt 4:20)”. James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John, also followed Him.
Jesus invites each one of us to give our lives completely, without measurement or personal interest, without thinking, “What’s in it for me?” When Jesus approached James and John, they were fishing with their father and St. Matthew says they immediately left their boat and their father to follow Jesus. They allowed God’s voice to enter their heart and put aside everything to follow Jesus.
Remember Jesus was criticized because He called sinners – people like you and me. They accepted His invitation because they recognized Jesus is the way to perfection. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we make a covenant with Jesus to love Him above all things and to serve Him in our brothers and sisters.
The other day I was reading an article where the question was posed, “What does it mean to be a Catholic?” Pope St. Paul VI wrote in his 1964 Ecclesiam Suam (His Church), “Those who are baptized and by this means incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body, His Church, must attach the greatest importance to this event. They must be acutely aware of being raised to a higher status, of being reborn to a supernatural life, there to experience the happiness of being God’s adopted sons, the special dignity of being Christ’s brothers, the blessedness, the grace and the joy of the indwelling Holy Spirit” (No. 39).
Jesus’ invitation to follow Him is not something that starts and stops. With our resounding, “I do!” we begin a life of faith in our triune God and our hunger for God is never ending. We are called to help each other live the gospel of the kingdom by our daily prayer, by our example, by our living the heart of Jesus.
We are called to the table of the Lord to receive Jesus, the Eucharist, and to live as a Eucharist all the days of our lives. How beautiful is Jesus’ invitation to come after Him. He, the Eucharist already setting the table, calling us to eat that we may bring God’s love to all the people.
We are privileged to be on this pilgrimage because we receive the special dignity of being Christ’s brothers, the blessedness, the grace and the joy of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are privileged to be on this pilgrimage in step with Jesus as we receive Him in the Eucharist.
Following Jesus begins in the heart of every one of us. Just as Peter and Andrew and James and John were uprooted from their daily living by their response to Jesus’ invitation, living as a Eucharist uproots from our hearts all hatred and resentment toward the brothers and sisters with whom we live. We offer ourselves to each other clothed in the generous mercy of Jesus. We know our limitations and we accept the limits of each other generously, mercifully with the forgiveness of Jesus.
Pope Francis said, “God became a Child, and that Child, once grown, let Himself be nailed on a Cross. There is nothing weaker than one who is crucified, yet that weakness came the demonstration of God’s supreme power.” In the Eucharist, God’s power is always at work.
Come to the table of the Lord. Receive The Eucharist. Be a Eucharist.