Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

To Follow Jesus Christ

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We all need to be reminded from time to time what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The very first thing is this, and it comes as a surprise to some people: to be a follower of Jesus means first of all to accept his message of Good News that God loves each one of us, endlessly and unconditionally. Let us say this again, loud and clear: Jesus brought us good news, so good that we sometimes find it difficult to believe - quite simply God loves you. Whoever you are, whatever the circumstances of your life, God loves you right now and seeks your good.

 Next, in response to this message of good news, Jesus urges us: open your ears, your heart, your will, your whole life to receive God’s love. There may be many things wrong with your life but God is still with you. God will never, ever, desert you. So, will you accept his presence, welcome his love, trust his power?

If so, then allow the power of God’s love to become a reality in your life and reflect it in your love for one another - for God loves all those others, too, and is with them also in his love! So comes the appeal of Jesus: “Repent”; turn over a new leaf; make a new start. Don’t live any longer the way of the world, in fear, greed, competition, jealousy, suspicion and so on. Instead, he says, seek to live as I have lived among you: “love one another as I have loved you”. That is the way to live fully and meaningfully - it is the Way of Love - loving God above all things and your neighbour as yourself.

Such is the message of Jesus to each of us, and it is a message that he lived. In Jesus we see God’s mercy, love and saving power made flesh, reaching out, touching the lives of people to change them. He pardoned sinners, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf hear and the lame walk, healed lepers and gave hope to all who welcomed him. All his works were expressions of his loving concern for the people he met, and signs of his loving concern for us too.

Jesus is with us still - pardoning our sins, opening our ears so we can hear the message of God’s love and our eyes so we can see new depth and hope in life. He strengthens us with his own Spirit so we can walk his way of love; he draws us out of isolation and into his family where he feeds us with word and with his own body and blood. He invites each of us: “Come to me”, allow me to touch your life, and then “follow me” and walk in my way.

That, then, is what it means to be a follower of Christ.