Friday, June 24, 2016

June 26, 2016 - The Challenging Jesus

  The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C

                                                        Reading I: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
                                                 Responsorial Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
                                                         Reading II: Galatians 5:1, 13-18
                                                                  Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

Looking at the men Jesus is inviting to follow him, I see questioning, hesitation, uncertainty.  
Jesus, rather than trying to persuade them, challenges them: “Foxes have dens and birds 
of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” One says that he 
wants first go bury his father. The other asks to first go home to say farewell to his family.
Jesus wants them to leave all immediately to go to proclaim the kingdom of God. I am struck
by the intensity of Jesus as he calls them.

As I reflect on the Gospel for this Sunday, a quote from Soren Kierkegaard that what Jesus
wants is “followers not admirers” strikes me deeply. It is so, so easy to admire Jesus.  To follow
Him requires much sacrifice. I find that one of my favorite prayers is “Lord, help me to love 
you as you deserve to be loved.” As I ask myself if I am an admirer or a follower of Jesus, 
sometimes I am not sure.  

Yes, I do attempt to imitate Jesus when I ask myself: What would Jesus do in this situation?
What is the truly loving thing to do? Sometimes there is a feeling of happiness and fulfillment
when we extend ourselves in loving God and our brothers and sisters. However, there are
other times when we only feel sacrifice in putting away our own desires in the context
of self-forgetful love. 

Married couples must learn to compromise and give up some of their own ways for the sake
of a good marriage. Caring parents learn sacrifice when they put aside their own desires for the benefit of their children. I learned sacrifice when I chose to visit my father who had Alzheimer's disease, even after I had realized that he didn't even know who I was. There is sometimes no sense of personal comfort in sacrifices. My experience has helped me understand what is often involved in dedication: the surrender of one's own comfort and/or desires for the good of others.

Jesus certainly put aside his own comfort and humbled himself to take on our humanity and live as a human being with us. This endears him to us. Certainly, he made many, many sacrifices in his lifetime and ended it with the supreme sacrifice at Calvary. The pain of others weighed heavily on his compassionate heart. He was especially aware of the heartbroken state of his mother who
shared so profoundly in his sufferings.

If we are to follow Jesus, rather than simply admire him, sacrifice must be a significant part of our lives. As humans, we usually do not like to sacrifice. Even Jesus struggled in the Garden of Olives before his Passion saying: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

It is only with the strength of the Lord that we, humans, can follow and imitate the Jesus. We need to pray to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to help us when being a faithful follower of Jesus seems to be beyond our natural ability.


  1. Sr. Annette,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings in this reflection on following Jesus. I was certainly an admirer of Jesus in my younger years. I was content to call myself Christian but I created a comfortable distance between myself and God. God was somewhere “out there,” while I went through life influenced more by trendy behaviors and attempting to please others rather than considering what Jesus would expect from a true believer. It was an impersonal and controlled association. I was afraid of what would be required to follow Christ. How much would I be asked to sacrifice? It wasn’t until I understood that Christ is within me (and others) that I wanted to get in touch with this spiritual energy and live in harmony with the will of God. I found it helpful to attend workshops, retreats, and the occasional parish adult education series but the main impetus for my yearning for a deepened relationship with Jesus were the Scripture Sharing gatherings held at St. Katharine Drexel Motherhouse. Weekly reflection and discussion of the Scripture readings made the Gospels come alive. I have come to appreciate how meaningful the messages are in my daily life. Upon becoming an Associate of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament I set the intention of spending time in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Through that Devotion I have come to regard Jesus as my constant Companion. I feel as though I can confide in Him at any time about any concerns. While solutions may not occur in my time frame, it is so comforting to be able to express my desires and to know that I am heard. I hope that this shift from needing an answer to accepting God’s will and trusting in His timing indicates I am becoming more of a follower of Jesus.
    I mourn not for releasing the attachments of my youth for there is not a greater single focus than that of Jesus. In the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament we are invited to experience a precious moment of Divinity touching the depth of our being and feeling the incredible love that God has for us. In order to receive this grace-filled gift we need to let go of anything that would distract us. I can’t receive God’s gifts if my mind is filled with obligations and my heart is wrought with discontent. Jesus, the One who is the way, the truth, and the life, promises to fill us with His Love, Joy, and Peace if we surrender and accept His invitation to follow him.

  2. Dear Pat,
    You and other members of the St. Katharine Drexel Faith-sharing Circle have proved to be great support and inspiration to me and to others. Blessings, Sr. Annette Marie

  3. I see my life as living the way Jesus did: Spreading the Word. Emulation is my inspiring voice to others around the world.

    "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."

    1 John 2:6