by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
April 21, 2013
It was winter. Jesus was walking about the Portico of Solomon, one of the open air galleries that surrounded the large esplanade of the Temple. That Portico, specifically, was a place often frequented by people since it was apparently protected against the wind by a wall. Soon, a group of Jews circles around Jesus. The dialogue is tense. The Jews beset him with their questions. Jesus criticizes them because they don't accept his message or his actions. Specifically, he tells them, "you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep". What does that metaphor mean?
Jesus is quite clear: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life." Jesus doesn't force anyone. He just calls. The choice to follow him depends on each one of us. Only if we hear him and follow him do we establish with Jesus that relationship that leads to eternal life.
There is nothing as decisive for being a Christian as making the decision to live as followers of Jesus. The great risk for Christians has always been claiming to be one without following Jesus. In fact, many of those who have drifted away from our communities are people who nobody has helped to make the decision to follow in his footsteps.
Nonetheless, that's the first decision of a Christian. The decision that changes everything, because it's beginning to experience in a new way one's allegiance to Christ and membership in the Church -- finally finding the way, the truth, the meaning and the reason for the Christian faith.
And the first thing for making that decision is hearing his call. Nobody starts to walk in Jesus' footsteps by following their own intuition or wishes to live out an ideal. We start to follow him when we feel drawn to and called by Christ. Therefore faith is not primordially believing something about Jesus, but believing him.
When the following of Jesus -- cared for and reaffirmed again and again in one's own heart and in the Christian community -- is lacking, our faith runs the risk of being reduced to an acceptance of beliefs, the practice of religious obligations, and obedience to the discipline of the Church.
Then, it's easy to settle into religious practice, without letting ourselves be challenged by Jesus' calls to us from the gospel we hear each Sunday. Jesus is in that religion, but he doesn't drag us along in his footsteps. Without realizing it, we become accustomed to living in a routine and repetitive way. We lack the creativity, renewal, and joy of those who make an effort to follow Jesus.