I Will Follow Him ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

After Daddy’s mesothelioma diagnosis was deemed critically terminal, one of his great comforts was chewing gum.  He went through at least a pack a day.  I’ll never forget this conversation between he and Momma when Daddy was in the hospital:

Daddy:  Did I ask you to bring me some gum?

Momma:  Yes, Honey.

Daddy:  Did you bring me some gum?

Momma:  Yes, Honey.

Daddy:  Then why ain’t I achewin’ it?

And we all laughed, Momma gave Daddy his gum, he began “achewin’ it” and all was as right as it could be under the circumstances.

The Responsorial Psalm appointed for today comes from Psalm 25. Here it is:

R.  Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your love are from of old.  In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way.  He guides the  humble to justice  and teaches the humble his way.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

And the Gospel for today comes from Mark 1:   As he (Jesus) passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them,  “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”   Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.  He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.  They too were in a boat mending their nets.  Then he called them.  So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Now, you ask me, what in the world does Daddy’s gum have to do with those scriptures?  I’m gonna tell ya.  Momma was prepared.  She had done Daddy’s bidding, but just hadn’t quite followed through with it yet.  How many of us are like that when it comes to doing our Lord’s bidding?  Like the Psalmist, we have all of us asked “Teach me your ways, O Lord.”  But have we followed through?

In the Gospel reading for today, we read of Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow him.  And they did.  We have many of us been called to follow Christ.  And we do.  Mostly???  Sort of???  Kind of???  In a round about way???

In the past few weeks, how many of us have said/posted/read/agreed with things that would most definitely not be considered Christ-like?   How many of us have let our personal political beliefs get in the way of acting like the “little Christ” we are called to be?  Sure we can disagree, often vehemently, but under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to allow those differences of opinions to get in the way of our witness for our Lord.  (You gotta remember that even Peter and Paul argued, but they didn’t let that stand in the way of building Christ’s Kingdom.)

Let us not forget that in many cases, we are the only Bibles that many folks will ever read, and we are the only Jesus that some folks will ever see.  It is up to us to see the Jesus in everyone, regardless of political belief, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, whether we cheer for Duke or for Clemson, or anything thing else that can be used to divide us.  We are all of us HIS people, the sheep of HIS pasture, and we have far more in common than we do the things that divide us, if we truly identify as HIS.

As Christians, have we lost our focus of what is truly important?  Regardless of politics, of whether we are ‘blue’ or ‘red’ or ‘rainbow,’ we are to remain focused on the one thing that really matters in this world and the next:  Spreading and sharing the love of and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  No matter who sits in the Oval Office, our job, our mission, our focus, has not changed and will not change:  We are called to love and to serve the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart.  We are called to care of each other, regardless of our politics.  We are commanded to ‘bless those who persecute us’ and we are called to ‘pray for our enemies.’  We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless. (Matthew 25:31-46). 

I think we all of us are familiar with the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”  And what is the next line?  Yep.  “And let it begin with me.”  Isn’t it time we lived up to that?   What are we doing to bring about change?  To bring about equality?  To bring about that healing this country so desperately needs? 

It is up to each of us to conduct ourselves in a manner fitting our faith.   Look at what you say.  Look at what you post.  If you were accused of being a Christian, would your timeline bear witness to the fact?

In the movie “Sister Act” the nuns sing another song that we’re all familiar with.  “I Will Follow Him.” 

 I must follow him, ever since he touched my hand I knew that near him I always must be And nothing can keep him from me He is my destiny. (Songwriters: Arthur Altman / Franck Pourcel / Jacques Plante / Norman Gimbel / Paul Mauriat)

So, having said all of the above, shouldn’t we, like the nuns, like Peter and James and John and Andrew and Paul actually do what we are called to do?

Follow Him.  In every word that we speak.  Follow Him.  In every post that we make.  Follow Him.  In every action we take.  Follow Him.  Amen.