What “but first” can keep you from resolutely following Jesus today? What are you unwilling to say goodbye to as you walk with Christ? These are two important questions to ponder when we reflect on our personal response to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me.”
I know that I often say “but first” when I am trying to handle multiple requests within a limited time period. That’s probably a good thing, especially if I am prioritizing which actions are most important. I must admit that I also use that expression when I am procrastinating or putting off something that doesn’t seem quite as enjoyable at the time. And sometimes it is even an excuse for not acting on something that in my heart of hearts, I know will ask something of me that I am not ready to commit to doing.
I hear some of the same when I interview candidates who are beginning the process of completing their sacraments of initiation as adults. When I ask, “What brings you here today,” the response often includes admission that often there were distractions or competing priorities that kept them from taking action. The call to conversion, to follow Jesus, was postponed countless times. “But firsts” took over.
The cost of following Jesus is demanding. It must be wholehearted. Pope Francis describes our relationship with Jesus in this way:
Being Christian is not just obeying orders but means being Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him; it means letting him take possession of our life and change it, transform it.”
(General Audience, Wednesday, April 10, 2017)