“Refining our Image of Christ, and with boldness and courage, singing from the depths of our hearts:
‘I have decided to follow Jesus!’”
(Based on Isa 53:10-11, Heb 4:14-16 and Mk 10:35-45 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B)
“I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS”
This is a popular Christian hymn.
This hymn has its origin from North East India – the lyrics based on the last words of a man in Garo, Assam.
It is said that a group of missionaries in this region were spreading the message of love, peace and hope in Jesus Christ.
Naturally, they were not welcomed, and encountered much opposition.
One particular family – consisting of a man, his wife, and two children – were greatly passionate in their following of Christ…
… and their faith proved contagious, as many villagers began to follow Christ.
With much enrage, the village chief summoned all the villagers.
He then called this particular family to renounce their faith in public or face execution.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man said: “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
Infuriated at the refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to arrow down the two children.
As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked:
“Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.”
But the man replied: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”
It’s these bold and courageous words that would later be harmonized to a hymn:
I have decided to follow Jesus (3), No turning back, no turning back.
Tho’ none go with me, still I will follow (3), No turning back, no turning back.
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus (3), No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me (3), No turning back, no turning back.
How about us?
Do we have the courage and the boldness to witness Christ…
… and are we ready to “follow Him, though none be with us?”
The Gospel of the Day presents two of the members of the Group of Jesus, who, having a lower understanding of the Person of Christ, fail to “Follow Christ”…
… and are exhorted by the Lord to refine their thought-pattern and encouraged to “Follow Him” with greater clarity and deeper passion.
The passage begins with James and John, the sons of Zebedee – two among the twelve chosen ones – placing this request to Jesus: “Teacher, we want you to do for us, whatever we ask” (Mk 10: 35)
This question gives us a glimpse of what was the Image of Jesus that was being perceived by the Disciples.
… Seeing the many miracles and wonders being performed by the Lord made them feel that Jesus, being a powerful person, could grant any of their heart’s desire
… Seeing the bold and uncompromising preaching and attitude of the Lord made them feel that Jesus, was to be a great Political Messiah
… seeing the challenging and clear-cut understanding of the Lord with respect to the Law and practices of the religion, made them feel that Jesus was a Great Religious Leader.
This was the case not only with James and John, but also the other disciples.
That is the reason, after this incident, though the other ten felt indignant at the two (Mk 10:41), Jesus would address this issue commonly to all
Even other times, the disciples themselves had been involved in talks of discussing about “who is the greatest among them” (Lk 22:24, Lk 9:46)
Jesus, however, makes it very clear to them, that they had still not been clear in their understanding of Who He was…
… Jesus said to them: “You do not know what you are asking!” (Mk 10:38a)
The Lord drives home the point directly:
If you are looking at me as Someone Who only fulfils your material and earthly desires…
… then you need to elevate your thought pattern
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and everything else will be given unto you!” (Mt 6:33)
If you are expecting me as Someone Who wants to establish a political kingdom and bringing only social changes…
…then you need to realize that My Mission is greater
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to bring glad tidings to the poor…” (Lk 4:18)
If you are feeling that I am Someone Who only wants to clear up the religious clogs that have been burdening the people…
… then you need to understand that I have a Bigger Duty
“I have come down from Heaven, not to do My Own Will, but the Will of the One Who sent Me…
… For this is the Will of Father that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him, may have Eternal Life” (Jn 6:38, 40)
Jesus makes His Image very clear to the disciples: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to Serve and to give His Life as a Ransom for many” (Mk 10:45)
This ‘key-verse’, presents the Four Dominant Images of Jesus in the Gospel of St Mark:
… Son of Man (Jesus – the SON)
… but to Serve (Jesus – the SERVANT)
… give His Live (Jesus – the SACRIFICE)
… as a Ransom for many (Jesus – the SAVIOUR)
Prophet Isaiah prophesied this Image of Christ in his writings:
“He grew up like a sapling before Him (SON)… through His Suffering (SACRIFICE), my servant shall justify many (SERVANT), and their guilt He shall bear (SAVIOUR)” (Is 53: 2,11b)
What about us?
What is our Image of Jesus…
… and what are the requests with which we approach Jesus?
Are they merely materialistic and earthly desires?
Many times, like the disciples…
… we tend to be self-seeking and world-bound in our desires
… we look for gains and prominence, as a reward for being a Christian
If so, then the Lord says, we need to…
… elevate our thought patterns
… realize that His Mission in us, is greater
… and understand that He has a Bigger Duty in our life.
He knows that we are sometimes selfish… jealous… power-seekers
But let’s realize and take hope in the fact, that it’s for all of us, who are with these weaknesses, that Jesus primarily came to the world:
“I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners!” (Mk 2:17)
The disciples asked for position and power…
… Jesus said: “I will give you much higher – MY SERVICE”
The disciples asked for prominence and greatness …
… Jesus said: “I will give you much bigger – MY LIFE”
Let us refine our Image of Christ, and with boldness and courage, sing from the depths of our hearts:
“I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back!
Tho’ none go with me, still I will follow, No turning back, no turning back!
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus, No turning back, no turning back!
The world behind me, the cross before me, No turning back, no turning back!”
October 17 is also celebrated as the International Day of Eradication of Poverty.
As followers of Christ, let us…
… renew our commitment for the poor
… share our resources with the needy
… support the cause for equal opportunities for all
… and fight for social justice
Let our “praying lips” strengthen us to also have “healing hearts and helping hands!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CHURCH – MYSTERY OF MEN’S UNION WITH GOD
It is in the Church that Christ fulfils and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”
St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.”
Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.
Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (CCC #772)