Thursday, August 27, 2020





Take up My cross (their cross) and:  immediately after, straight from the Holy Gospel, we hear Jesus again inviting us with His love-words: follow Me. [1]

Those two words follow Me are spoken to us by Jesus over twenty times in the Holy Gospel.

Me sequere is the Latin and places ‘me’ before follow. The English translation is grammatically correct for English and Suis-moi, the French translation incorporates: the word ‘suis’, translated in English as ‘m because the word ‘suis’ is always used in connection with an action such as the suis-moi and also with being: such as Je suis which means, in context, I am/I follow.

Ακολούθησέ με is the Greek for follow me, placing me second as in the French. In fact, the Greek term means to follow the thread of a discourse, hence when Jesus invites us to follow Him He is first and foremost inviting us to follow the discourse with Him, in a word into the depths and implications of all His words.

Following Jesus then is both a matter of heart-understanding attentiveness and being with Jesus wherever He leads.

The very text of St. Matthew 4:18-20 reveals Jesus, always with the fire-love of His Sacred Heart, is seeking us. His call is always a matter of love: our response makes real our love for Him. Once He sees them Jesus says: Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him. *

Love calls, love responds!

Who among us has not, on occasion, when asked by someone to accompany them, or help with something responded with: “Be right with you as soon as…..”  Such a response is not a lack of willingness but a question of priorities.

St. Matthew illustrates this point when someone, defined by St. Matthew as already a disciple, obviously was asked by Jesus for a deeper commitment, but wavers saying in essence “Be right with You as soon as…..” to which Jesus replies: Follow Me and let the dead bury their dead. [Mt. 8:22] Jesus is not here denying the commandment to honour our parents, rather He is teaching us that our greatest priority must always be the Kingdom and the things of the Kingdom.

In 9:9 is the call of Matthew himself; in 10:38 and 16:24 the taking up of our cross as constituent of following Jesus; in 19:16-22 the story of the Rich Young Man, for whom dispossession of his great wealth as a condition of following Jesus was just too much.

St. Mark also tells of Jesus’ call to follow Him addressed to James and John in 1:17, to Levi in 2:14 and in 8:34 also gives Jesus’ teaching about taking up our cross as a vital component of following Him and repeats this in 10:21.

St. Luke’s first ‘follow Me’ account is in 5:27 with the call of Matthew, and showing Matthew’s exuberance at being converted, while in 9:23 he gives a detailed teaching by Jesus of what taking up one’s cross and following Him entails and later in 9:59 we encounter again Jesus’ teaching on priorities of choice. In St. Luke’s version the one with much wealth is defined as ‘a certain ruler’, 18:22 is the hunger of love for that man, an offering of love rebuffed because even though the weight of the man’s wealth makes him sorrowful the sorrow is not exchanged for the joy of following Jesus.

St. John tells us of Jesus finding Philip and the asking to be followed 1:43. It is St. John who gives us Jesus’ self-revelation teaching He is the Good Shepherd and notes how the sheep follow Him, 10:27. It is after His triumphal procession into Jerusalem that Jesus connects our faithful service with yet again the invitation to follow, 12:26 so that we may be where He is.

We easily remember Peter’s boast during the Last Supper, but we often forget this occurs in the context of wanting, in his burning love for Jesus, to follow Him: 13:36-38.

In chapter 21 affirming that Peter will die a martyr’s death, it is Jesus Risen, radiating fire, love, light upon Peter who in saying to Peter once more Follow Me, 21:19, shows to Peter and all of us the ultimate experience of responding to Jesus’ loving invitation to follow Him is that of resurrection and eternal life with Jesus in the heart of the Trinity.

Typical Peter of course seeing John, who self refers as the disciple Jesus loved, following Jesus, the old insecurity, if not jealously, flares, so Peter pushes Jesus on what will become of John and this is the one time in the Holy Gospels where the tone is not invitational but a command: YOU FOLLOW ME, 21:22.

For Peter, the literal “Follow Me” will come after the washing of the feet at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:36), and later, in a definitive way, after the resurrection, on the shore of Lake Tiberias (cf. Jn 21:19)……………we may ask: who is He who issues the call to follow Him, and promises to those who follow Him such great rewards, even eternal life? Can an ordinary human being promise so much and be believed and followed, and have such a hold not only on those happy disciples but also on thousands and millions of people throughout the centuries?.......In establishing the need of the response to the call to follow Him, Jesus concealed from no one that to follow Him involves sacrifice, sometimes also the supreme sacrifice……(Mt.16-24-25)……At the same time, however, Jesus proclaimed blessed those who are persecuted “on account of the Son of Man” (Lk 6:22) [2]



* The citations are only the verse where the word appears, unless otherwise indicated.

[2] A Catechesis on the Creed; John Paul II; Jesus Son and Saviour; Volume Two; pp. 246/247 & 249; Pauline Media 1996

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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