Our theme for this week is, “Jesus is calling us all to whole-hearted discipleship – a determined commitment to follow him without reserve. Let us put aside our wavering and dedicate our whole life to him, with God’s will as our first priority in everything.”

Jesus is calling us, each one of us individually. Jesus is calling me. He says to me today, as he says to the man in the Gospel, “Follow me.” The first question is, do I believe this? Do I believe that Jesus is calling me to follow him? Let us take a moment here to quiet ourselves, opening our minds and hearts to God, and make the request that we find in the Gospel Acclamation, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.” Let us repeat this, and allow the Lord to assure us that, yes, he is indeed calling me, personally, to follow him.

What is it that the Lord is calling us to? The Psalm makes it clear: “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” Two Sundays ago we celebrated the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. We saw then that God is inviting us to share in the very life and love of the Three Divine Persons. We cannot begin to grasp the fullness of what this means, but surely it can be described as “fullness of joys in [God’s] presence” and “the delights at [God’s] right hand forever.”

Last Sunday we celebrated Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. One thing that we learned from that feast is that God longs so passionately to bring us into his presence that he took on human flesh and blood, which he then offered up in his suffering and death to make it possible for us to be united to him. We understand, then, that when he says to us, “Follow me,” he does not say it lightly. He has given everything he has in order to provide us with this opportunity to share in his eternal life. There is a famous line from a movie in which one character says to the other, “Come with me if you want to live.” That is what Jesus is saying when he says to us, “Follow me.” Follow me to life. Follow me to escape sin and death. Follow me and I will make you a channel of grace for your brothers and sisters to find life.

We sometimes flip Jesus’ invitation upside down, as if he were asking a favor from us rather than offering us everything. In our fallen nature, we hear something like, I know you have other things you would rather be doing, but I need you to help me do my work. Jesus, however, does not need us; we need him! He chooses to involve us in his work, not because he needs our help, but because he knows that we need to give ourselves in love in order to be freed from slavery to our own self-centeredness.

Three weeks ago we celebrated the feast of Pentecost. We were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, making it possible for us to live a new life in Christ, which we could not do on our own. St. Paul makes this clear in today’s second reading. He tells us to “live by the Spirit” rather than by the desires of the flesh. He warns us that “the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other.” So we should not be surprised that our nature struggles with Jesus’ call to follow him. But we do not live to satisfy the demands of our flesh. Paul exhorts us, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

Elisha gives us a good example of how to respond to Christ’s call. When Elijah throws his cloak over him, symbolizing his call to follow him as a prophet, Elisha makes an immediate and irrevocable decision to devote his life to following Elijah. He “burns his bridges,” slaughtering the oxen with which he was plowing, and burning the plowing equipment. This shows how determined he is not to return to his old life of farming.

This week we will celebrate the feasts of several martyrs, who give us shining examples of wholehearted devotion to following Christ. Let us ask God today for the grace to imitate them, and say our own firm “yes” to the Lord’s gracious invitation to follow him.

How is Jesus calling me to follow him? What “bridges” do I need to burn in my life in order to follow him? How does giving of myself in love free me from self-centeredness?

Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 18, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.