Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: 21 January

Follow the Leader

 Follow the Leader  ING-003
19 January 2024

As a young girl, like many children I played a game called “follow the leader”. For those not familiar with the game the basic premise is there is a leader and whatever the leader does the others mimic that action. If the leader claps her hands or jumps up and down, then all those participating follow suit. This week in Mark’s Gospel we witness the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He proclaims the Good News, calls people to repentance, and invites His first apostles to follow Him. Jesus demands a decisive and transformative response from each of us and we must decide whether we will choose to follow His lead.

With one seemingly simple phrase, “come after me”, we are told that Simon, Andrew, James, and John abandoned their normal lives as fishermen to follow Jesus. They followed Him immediately and without hesitation. They heeded His words to repent and believe, and to go where He would lead them.  They placed their trust in Him. He chose to call ordinary people just like you and me. Amid their everyday lives, recognizing their flaws and shortcomings Jesus called them just like he calls each of us.

The call of Jesus to his first disciples was a call to action. A call to leave behind their old lives and follow Him. It was an invitation to a new way of life, a life of discipleship. This call is still relevant today. Jesus invites each one of us to a new way of life, a life of conversion and love. Discipleship is a great adventure of learning and growing in faith and taking what we learn, putting it into practice, and being a witness to others. Following Jesus also requires sacrifice and surrender. If we are to be His disciples, we must be willing to surrender ourselves fully to a life of service.

Even when we stray God is unrelenting in calling us back to Himself, he is constantly asking us to repent, to choose a different path for our lives, to give up thinking we can control our lives and avail ourselves to His mercy and love.

Daily we are challenged to examine our own response to God’s call, we must examine our priorities, loyalties, and the direction of our lives. The essence of discipleship is responding to the call of Jesus, leaving behind the old to embrace the new, becoming active participants in the unfolding kingdom of God, and following His lead.

*  Executive Director
Maryland Catholic Conference

By Jenny Kraska*