Constantly, in readings, reflections, and preaching, we hear the invitation to follow Je- sus, or an explanation of how His modern day disciples are supposed to live. The truth is that followers are nothing without the One they fol- low. It is He who determines where they go and how they are supposed to live.
I believe that there are two ways to follow. Sometimes, we do both, and on other occa- sions, we choose one over the other.
The first way of following is getting to know the person we follow and admiring what he or she does. We follow them to the places they go, but they do not affect the way we live; there are no changes in our lives. This is what it is to be a fan. Sometimes, we follow Jesus this way and we might believe that we are followers, but in actuality, we are fans. Although we ad- mire His life and teachings, doing so does not change us in any appreciable way.
The second way of following is to internalize the other’s teachings and to accompany the person. Doing so, we allow our lives to be transformed by our following. This is what a real follower – a disciple – should be.
There are some inconveniences in following Jesus. One of these I call “continuity,” that is to desire to follow Him continually. This is most dif- ficult because many can follow the Lord for a time, but the great commitment is to follow Him always, all the time, and in every kind of situation. And I think here is where we should reflect and work harder. To follow Jesus all our lives may be difficult, but if we follow Him cor- rectly, then everyday we come to know Him more and we become stronger because we become more and more like Him.
Following the Lord in this way, we need to un- derstand that difficult moments do not define the way we walk, and even though they are difficult and painful, they are just moments of walking with Him. Saint John of the Cross beautifully said this about following Jesus: I will not gather flowers, nor fear wild beasts; I will go
beyond fortress and frontiers. Saint John is trying to teach us that in the way we choose to walk sometimes we will encounter great and won- derful moments. Although other moments will be difficult, we will continue to follow Jesus not because everything is wonderful, and neither will we cease to follow him because things are difficult. We follow Jesus because He has called us, because we have seen His light. Sometimes we may believe that we follow because of the promises of the Lord, such as eternal life. While these promises are valid reasons, the lives of the saints teach us that the true reason for following the Lord is our experience of His great love for us.
I am moved, at the end, by your love, and in such a way,that even if there would be no heaven, I would love you,and if there would be no hell, I would fear you.
You do not have to give me anything to love you, for even if what I await I would not await,
the same that I love you, I would love you. (Saint Teresa of Ávila)