What Keeps You Following Jesus?
- Sunday, January 22, 2017
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
In our gospel today we see Jesus starting to draw attention to himself. People are starting to notice him, listen to him and now, follow him. It is interesting to note that there must have been something about Jesus that is so capturing for the first disciples, that it doesn’t take much persuasion to follow Jesus. Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee. He notices two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew. These brothers are going about their daily business, fishing. It is an ordinary day much like any other, except when an extraordinary person comes by and calls them to follow him. They cannot resist, they leave what they are doing and follow.
When we reflect back in our own lives to that first time we consciously said “yes” to Jesus, what was that like? Our first call to get onside and follow Jesus is unique to each of us. For some, the moment is clear with a specific situation and we remember everything about it. For others it has been a gradual realization and even a life-long experience that we have grown up with and grown into. Whatever our story, whatever the circumstances were for us, inevitably we come to the realization that this is it and we make that conscious commitment. In our heart of hearts we just know and it doesn’t take much persuasion at all. It feels right and becomes a part of our identity and who we are as a person. For Peter and Andrew, they just know that this is what they need to be doing now. They have heard enough, experienced enough and now know that this is what they need to be doing now.
This idea of capturing the imagination of people is not new. Down through the ages and even in our present context there have always been people who have captured the imagination and stirred up feelings and desires for better or for worse. The election in the United States is a classic example of this. Regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum it is clear that there are strong feelings and convictions on both sides. Fear and anxiety has run high in the hearts and minds of so many. What is clear is that we live in changing and volatile times where the future is less certain than we first imagined. We can find it hard to remain focused on our core values and identity. We can find ourselves loosing hope. The path we have chosen, that was once so certain can become less certain and sure.
So given that we live in times where old sentiments that once were put to rest seem to be on the rise again, what keeps us following? What keeps us in the game and focused on what we as the Baptized People of God need to be doing? Well there are, even in the political climate to the South of us, signs of hope. Signs that suggest that darkness doesn’t get to stay. There are sign of light that have begun to shine.
What could have been considered by some to be the darkest hour of a nation, light has shone in the darkness. People have started to band together in support of one another and basic human rights. In the early days following the election of Donald Trump people began to set up community gardens, to think globally, while acting locally in fostering resources. Others were urging people that if they hadn’t already, they need to sign up for the so called “Obama Care”. Now we hear that “Obama Care” isn’t as easy to get rid of or replaced as Republicans once thought it would be. Human Rights and Woman’s Rights have also risen to the consciousness. Online support groups such as Pantsuit Nation have formed that provide a platform for people to talk openly about their experiences and find solidarity and support.
In many ways, small and large, the examples of racism and hatred that we have been hearing is met with an equal increase in commitment and realization to a different way of living with fellow human beings. As has been said by Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and others: Fear cannot overcome fear, hate cannot overcome hate, darkness cannot overcome darkness. Only love, God’s radical and unconditional love can break down barriers that divide and allow for the dawn of a new day and God’s light to shine in an often fearful, volatile and fragile world. This is why the world needs us now. This is why the world needs the Church now and the message and role that we have to offer during these uncertain times. As I mentioned earlier The King is already here working in the heart and minds of people all over the world. The King is already here bringing light into the world once more. This is what we hold onto to sustain us in this game and to keep following the One who called us first. That is Goodness will always overcome evil and God will have the last word.