Sunday Reflection | Follow Christ! - Saint John's Seminary
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Sunday Reflection | Follow Christ!

September 30, 2023

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

(Responsorial Psalm 25)

Today, on the Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year, the words of Psalm 25 offer a means of focusing our prayerful response to God’s Word. Forty-four years ago on this day, October 1st, 1979, Boston received a visit of his Holiness, Pope Saint John Paul II. On a cloudy and a rainy day, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to welcome the Holy Father as his motorcade made his way from Logan Airport, crowding the walkways and rooftops and jamming onto Boston Common for a late afternoon Mass with the Pope. In spite of the raw temperatures and rain that, at times, came down torrentially, the joy and the reverence of the huge crowd was notable as they listened to the Pope exhort all to “Follow Christ!”

Video: Come, and Follow Me: Pope John Paul II in Boston

In his message on that day, Pope John Paul II reached out specifically to Catholic youth. The Holy Father encouraged them:

“Whatever you make of your life, let it be something that reflects the love of Christ… In whatever you do, remember that Christ is calling you, one way or another, to the service of love: the love of God and your neighbor… Real love is demanding. Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.”

In no way did the Pope want to exclude anyone from his exhortation to follow Christ, and so, he went on to say: “Follow Christ! You who are young or old. Follow Christ! You who are sick or aging, who are suffering or in pain. You who feel the need for healing, the need for love, the need for a friend – follow Christ!”

Each of today’s readings invite us to consider the ways we are called to walk in the ways of the Lord, to do the will of our heavenly Father, and to follow Christ.

In the First Reading, the prophet Ezekiel delivers God’s Word and contrasts the fairness of God’s way and our ways in an effort to encourage the people to turn from wickedness and sin to do what is right and just.

With the words of the Responsorial Psalm, we pray, “Remember your mercies, O Lord,” and we beg the Lord to make known his ways, teach us his paths, and guide us in His truth.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives us another insight into God’s way – by means of the recurring theme of “doing the will of the Father.” The parable of the two sons who are asked by their father to work in his vineyard picks up the spirit of Ezekiel’s exhortation.

For his part, Saint Paul offers practical advice about doing what is right, as Jesus speaks about it in Matthew’s Gospel. Paul shows how it is demonstrated in the actions of Christ in today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Philippians. Paul encourages the Philippians and us, “to be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing, doing nothing out of selfishness or our of vainglory, humbly regarding others as more important than ourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but for those of others.” Paul tells us that we are called to take on the attitude of Christ himself. As portrayed in the beautiful hymn, Christ’s life – His powerful teachings and actions, passion, death, and exaltation – all manifest His humble obedience to the will of the Father.

What matters is not what we hear and say, but what we do. Professing our faith means living our faith. Calling on the Lord’s mercy means that we are merciful toward others. To “Follow Christ” means to keep our eyes on the self-sacrificing attitude of Jesus and, imitating his life, teaching, death, and resurrection, to grow ever closer in communion with Him and with one another.

Very Rev. Stephen Salocks

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, B.S.

Saint John's Seminary, M.Div.

Pontifical Biblical Institute, S.S.L.

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