SEPTEMBER 28, 2005, - LUKE 9: 57- 62

I WILL BE YOUR FOLLOWER WHEREVER YOU GO. These are the words of an enthusiast, and betray a generous spirit. Our Lord knew well that it requires more than a rush of heartfelt emotion to stay the course that he was to pursue and so he gives a blunt warning to be prepared for hard times. We would very much like to know what the response of this man was to our Lord's words. Did he hold Ģinn and join those who accompanied the Lord in his wanderings? Or was he discouraged by the prospect opened out by life without fixed abode and steady work? Luke doesnot tell us; he seems more concerned to show us the kinds of demands that are made on anyone who decides to follow the Lord wherever he goes. They include the severance of ties with one's family and trust in Providence to supply daily needs. Before long Jesus was to make it clear to his followers that the demands of discipleship entail a willingness to face rejection, to become  peripheral and even to be persecuted. The disciple is no better than the master, he taught, and the master was to be humiliated and finally put to death.

After the resurrection, the faithful who were determined to follow wherever the Lord led reflected on the way to carry out the program outlined in general terms by Jesus in such sayings as we hear in today's Gospel. Among them were men highly trained in philosophy and with wide experience of affairs and so capable of discerning the kinds of attitudes and dispositions requisite for following wherever the Lord leads. A life of discipline and self-denial in which one avoided superfluity of material things, dedication to prayer and meditation, readiness to provide help to others as possibility permitted. Above all, as these faithful gained experience, they came to see that they required the constant help of the Spirit of the Lord and so built their lives on faith and trust in the Lord's promise to be with them always and to send them his Spirit for their support and consolation.

Such was the life-style of the early Christians, living with their families in the world among a perverse generation, as the apostle said. Such has remained the way of life practiced by the faithful through the ages. Some decided not to marry, and followed a more retired life while remaining with their families; after a while, when circumstances in society changed some moved out of the cities and lived in solitude. But these same attitudes, the same watchfulness and seeking to keep themselves unspotted from the world by prayer and self denial was common to all who would follow the Lord wherever he leads. Eventually monastic life developed its own way of pursuing this same goal, but many others continued to live in society while pursuing the same dispositions of heart so as to be true followers of the Lord. Whatever the way of life, whatever the means used to attain it there is but one aim and one way to the final goal. It is the way announced in today's Gospel: to accompany the Lord Jesus wherever he leads for he is the true way that leads to eternal life in the presence of God our Father.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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