If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

No Turning Back

I published this in my latest book, Learning to Lean. I think the message is important enough to repost it here. I hope you find it a worthwhile read.

And to another [Jesus] said, “Follow me.” But he replied . . . “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62).

In the years – decades, actually – I’ve been a Christian, I’ve often pondered what it really means to follow Jesus.

I’ve learned through those years that no one can follow Christ without God’s grace to enable a person to even desire to follow. That’s why Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

But I’ve also learned through those years that once drawn, following Christ means actively growing in our obedience to His commandments. After all, can I honestly say I follow Christ if I don’t steadily work at doing as He did and speaking as He spoke?

Following Jesus means living as separated to God as possible within the limitations of my sinful nature. Following Him means developing a habit and pattern of prayer, Scripture study and service to others.

But this past weekend our parochial vicar preached a homily that, I think, gets to the root of the question about following Jesus. That root centers around a heart-change brought about by a personal – and ongoing – decision to commit oneself to the journey of following Christ.

Our vicar said it this way: How can I follow? How must I follow? Before you know how or why, decide today to do it and not look back.

The uncommitted heart can know nothing.

The committed heart will find every door opened, every secret revealed, every grace supplied. For it is only by following the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with an undivided heart that you will find true and lasting peace in this life, and bliss beyond compare in the life to come.

Our priest’s words resonated with me, and remind me -- even as I write this – of Elijah’s challenge to the people on Mount Carmel: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The vicar’s words also remind me of a worship chorus I've sung for many years: I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back.

Lists of how-tos and how-nots are good and necessary things to help people learn how to follow Christ. But without an underpinning, an undergirding . . . a foundation built upon a decision and growing commitment to follow Him, all our lists will eventually fade into lifeless routine.

Oh, Lord, grant us grace to fully commit to follow you.


Victor S E Moubarak said...

I like this post, very much. Thanx.

God bless.

Richard Maffeo said...

Victor, I am glad it was helpful. Blessings on you and yours.


Barb Schoeneberger said...

The words of the parochial vicar are inspired and comforting. And welcome home!

I'm glad you've joined Sunday Snippets. I hope you'll be with us every week because I really like your blog.

Joann Nelander said...

A beautiful reminded as we begin the Year of Faith. Thank you and your priest.

Richard Maffeo said...

Joann, you're welcome :)

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks, Barb. I intend to. I am glad I got the invite :)

Kathleen Basi said...

Wow! That's quite a homily. We hardly ever get anything with that kind of depth. :(

Richard Maffeo said...

I concur, Kathleen. If ANYONE should have on fire, indepth, life-changing homilies, it should be in the Catholic Church.