28th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year B, October 14, 2012
The game of FOLLOW THE LEADER is familiar to all of us over 50 who grew up before the age of technology took over. FOLLOW THE LEADER was a kids’ game in which each player tried to imitate the actions of the person who was designated as the LEADER. We followed the leader’s movements as accurately as we could, and excitement mounted as each new action presented itself as a challenge, since each of us tried to show off our superior skill and dexterity.
I recall playing the game with my neighborhood group of kids, and my recollection is that they were all agile and able to follow the leader with accuracy. I, on the other hand was not very agile or athletic, and I found myself landing in the mud puddle that others had jumped easily, losing my balance while trying to jump ten times on one foot, and falling off the ladder the others had climbed without a moment’s hesitation. Sometimes the leader was easy to follow, sometimes not, but we always played the game as best we could. I have to admit that I really hated playing that stupid game. Today’s Gospel is one in which Jesus invites a rich young man to follow him and imitate him.
Although the young man was good, and faithful to the commandments, he was too attached to his riches to accept Jesus’ invitation that he sell all he had, give all the money to the poor and become a disciple. Following the leader can often be very difficult.
I know most of us would have jumped at the chance to follow Jesus, but that’s because we know he was God – something the rich young man didn’t know.
We can sit in our comfortable homes and say what WE would have done if we had been there, but let’s think about that for a moment.
- How many times have we passed up the opportunity to SAY or DO something charitable because it was inconvenient?
- How many times have we declined an invitation for spiritual renewal like a retreat or a CEW weekend because we had something else planned?
- How many times have we shut out the words of the homilist at Mass because his topic or delivery didn’t meet our expectations?
Well, my friends, I hate to admit it, but every time we are invited by Jesus to learn from him or imitate him, yet we pass up the chance, we are doing as the rich young man did, walking away sadly because we are tied too tightly to other things.
Wouldn’t it be tragic if everyone turned a deaf ear to Jesus, refusing to follow him? There would be no priests or sisters, no deacons, no missionaries to spread the Word of God, no faithful lay women and men to live the message of Christianity.
In short, we would have no one dedicating their lives to teach us, to guide us, and be our role models of Christ-like living. On this Vocation Awareness Sunday weekend we need to give this some thought.
Fortunately there have always been those who are open to God, and say YES when they are called. Maybe you are one of them.
There will always be opportunities for each of us to imitate Jesus. There will always be a nagging little voice – we call it CONCSIENCE – urging us to follow Jesus by doing things like:
- Giving some thought to a religious vocation.
- Making a sacrifice rather than satisfying ourselves.
- Saying a kind word instead of saying nothing.
- Performing an act of charity instead of minding our own business.
- Listening when we could speak.
The next time you hear that little voice of conscience, perhaps it is Jesus inviting you to join in a game of FOLLOW THE LEADER.
I guarantee it will be one game in which you will DEFINITELY be a winner.