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The Catholic Defender: Jesus and His Call to Follow Him

"After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment.

The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." As he 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."

The Gospel message coming from Mark 1:14-20, Jesus is beginning his public ministry reaching out to the Apostles. Because of the signs Jesus was performing among the people beginning with the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-12) not only were the Apostles believing in Jesus, but so were many people who were awaiting for the Messiah.

"Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.' Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."

The mother of Jesus has been echoing this message ever since. Are there times in your life that you feel your running out? What is it you are running out of? Time, money, patience, happiness? Are you being challenged? What are some things Jesus said?

“Come follow me”!

Are you following Jesus? My Son Nathan wrote a song in 2000 called “No Tomorrow” which says, “What would you do if today was your last, what would you do if you knew it was true? Would you follow Christ”?

That is an excellent question. Are you like one of the Lord’s Disciples who dropped their nets to follow Christ or are you like the rich man who could not part with his many possessions?

Are you ashamed to be identified as a follower of Jesus?

Are you ashamed to be Catholic? Jesus said, “Come Follow me”!

When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she accepted the will of God based on faith, hope, and love.

We should imitate Our Lady in following our Lord regardless the cost. Eternal salvation is far more important that any earthly good that separates us from the love of God. Love God, hate sin!

Jesus said, “your light must shine before others”!

Do you give witness to the gospel by the way you live your life? We are known primarily by what we say, by what we do, and by what we love!

Early Catholic tradition says, “If you were going to be arrested for being a Christian, could you be arrested upon evidence”?

Our example is far more important, St. Francis encouraged us to go "preach the gospel and when necessary, use words”!

Are you giving witness to Christ through your life?

When I was deployed in another Country, I tried to represent my Country by being respectful to the local people. I wanted people to have a good image of America.

Our faith experience should be something like that. Jesus continues saying, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”.

This is so important for the family, especially children. It all starts at home!

Jesus said, “This is how you are to pray”:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one”.

Does this prayer mean anything to you? Do you pray this reflecting on the words.

Do you forgive those who have wronged you?

Sometimes we just got to let it go. It is not healthy to hold things in by not forgiving those who wronged you.

Sometimes you have to give it to God. Sometimes the wrongs are so terrible, you have to find a way to release yourself from the wrong done to you.

This is easier said than done and it might take a lifetime to get over something, but you must not go by feelings or emotions. You have to go by the will because it is the right thing to do.

Jesus said, “Do unto others whatever you would have them do to you”.

The famous “Golden Rule”, are we killing someone because of hurtful remarks we say about others, are we persecuting people because we think we can?

How do you want to be treated? Are you fair in your judgments. In my experience in the Army, I tried to make every decision based from my core values.

I tried to see things as Jesus would see things, that famous bumper sticker, “WWJD”, “What Would Jesus Do”? Today I personally prefer WIJD, What Is Jesus Doing!

We are to judge people fairly. Does this mean that we are to be a punching bag for those who seek to take advantage over you, that you can’t defend yourself?

No, not at all, but we should use wisdom and understanding in dealing with those who seek to attack you. I’ve been told that the “pen is mightier than the sword”! Truth is important and we should defend it.

Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners”.

Do we think we are better that everybody else? Do we think we are perfect?

The challenge is that we come before God in humble thanksgiving, to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.” Let Jesus raise you up.

Jesus would leave the 99 to go after the one who who has gone astray.

We should not be filled with compromise, but committed to pick up our cross and following the Lord.

Do we ask for a price? Do we look to those who might pat us on the back and shake our hand? Do we really seek justice and mercy towards the sinners.

My heart dances when a fallen Catholic returns home to the vineyard, the holy Catholic Church.

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”.

Do you place the Lord as #1 in your life, do you seek to do his will in all things.

Jesus said that no greater love that a man can have than to lay down your life for your friends. This is an action to live by. To die to self everyday.

Pope Pius XII said that in the later part of the 20th century and beyond, to be a true Christian, they would have to be a “living martyr” because the attack on the family will be so severe.

Whose side are you on? Do you cave in to the social norms that encourages you to fall to the least line of resistance to temptation?

Do you obey the Commandments, the precepts of the Church? Do you offer the Lord you heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Do you offer him your sword, your life? Or do you cave in to Hollywood and the drive by-media? Do you walk by faith and not by sight?

Jesus said, “do this in memory of me”.

Do you go to Mass? Do you renew the Covenant with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Do you honor the Commandments to honor the Lord God and to keep holy the Lord’s Day?

Do you participate often and receive the Sacraments? Do you go to Confession and strive to live a holy life?

From the Mass we are to take the Lord whom we received out into the highways, the streets, the world at large.

Do you have family devotions and instill prayer into your children. How blessed it is when a young child says they love God!

Jesus said, “It is finished”.

Do we reflect what Christ did on the cross for our salvation?

Sometimes, when I look at the crucifix, I think of the crowning of thorns, the physical abuse Jesus absorbed for love of us.

For the sins of men whose minds thought only the pleasure of sin.

How men refuse to submit their hearts to God. When I think of the nail that pierced his right hand, how that represents the things I did that hurt others, those sins that cause my Lord to suffer in those I hurt.

When I think of the nail that pierced his left hand, I am reminded of those things I should have done but didn’t because I was afraid what others would think.

Maybe its just because of my own laziness. When I think about the nail that pierce our Lord’s feet, I am reminded of the times I refused to go where Jesus wanted me to go. Like Jonah, I chose to go the other way.

When I think of the spear that penetrated the heart of our Lord, he emptied himself out completely on my behalf.

May I receive strength from the Lord when I honor his passion for my sake. “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world, Amen”.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will never die”.

Do you believe? When you walk up to receive the Eucharist, do you believe? Do you say, “Amen”?

Jesus said, “If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them”, do you believe?

Do you go to Confession? Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon”, will you be ready?

Like St. John, do you say “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus?”

Like St. Paul, “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”

Mother Mary said, “Do whatever He tells you”, may the children of God recognize these words of their Mother, and follow the whole word of God.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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