When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (Jesus) said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” ( John 21:15-19)
“Come, follow me ,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me ,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me .” (Matthew 19:21)
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me .” (John 1:43)
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me . (John 10:27)
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I must admit, I have read and heard many times the passages from John 21 on Jesus’ exchange with Peter. This year, during Mass, for the first time I noticed these passages end with Jesus saying simply to Peter: “Follow me” (John 21:19). It is the same words he said to Peter when he first called him (Matthew 4:19). It is also the same words he said to Matthew (Matthew 9:9), the rich man (Matthew 19:21), and Philip (John 1:43). It is also the words he says to you and I as Catholic men: we are called to follow Jesus if we are to be his disciples (Luke 14:27).
So the important question remains: “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” First of all, it doesn’t mean conforming to just a pattern or formula of regulations. It means giving ourselves over to an interior, personal relationship with Jesus and letting him mold us according to his wisdom and plan. It means loving him and following him in obedience, no matter what others are doing. It means saying yes to Jesus each day, remaining faithful to the words he places on our hearts, and surrendering our tomorrows and our yesterdays to his providence.
Following Jesus requires listening to him and then following him where he’s leading you as best you can understand it – beginning right now. Maybe tomorrow, as you spend time with him in prayer, you’ll understand more, and better. God directed St. Francis of Assisi to “build my church,” and Francis started out by laying bricks—not very expertly, either. Over time, though, he learned what God really wanted. The important thing was that he started and was willing to be taught.
It is both a privilege and a challenge to hear Jesus say, “Follow me,” knowing he may lead us in new directions, perhaps even in ways we would not choose for ourselves. Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. He knows everything else, too. Leave the divine orchestration to him. He doesn’t call you to impossible tasks. He has been fitting you to serve him your whole life long. The ability you were born with; the talents you have developed; the experiences you have had; the gifts he has bestowed on you through his Holy Spirit—he harmonizes all of them so that you can give him glory. We are all called to love Jesus in the same measure, i.e., with all our hearts—but not to follow him by the same path. Peter had to understand that following Jesus meant something different for him than it did for the Apostle John (see John 21:23). God has different gifts and different roles for every member of the body of Christ.
So each day, focus on what you believe Jesus is saying to you, especially at Mass, in prayer, and from the Scriptures. Write it down, and read it often. We are his sheep, and he has promised us that we will hear his voice (John 10:27). Ask the Lord questions, and seek deeper understanding. Keep your eyes on his words to you, not on questions of who loves or serves him better or who has a better position and calling.
God has given you the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you. Be open to opportunities to reach out to someone in need, to pray for someone who may be hurting or suffering, to encourage someone who is struggling, and to work together with other Catholic men to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to others. Welcome the Spirit into whatever you are doing, and you will bear abundant fruit.
Of course you will make mistakes or mistake God’s meaning. It’s not a calamity! The Holy Spirit will gently redirect you in the way you should go. Just trust God, and follow Jesus . He has a great plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
Finally, remember, the call to follow Jesus is not to create homogeneous, one-size-fits-all disciples. No, God poured his Spirit out on Catholic men from every tongue and culture, like you and I, so we could learn to love one another and work together to build his kingdom. Jesus is calling you to this today. Will you answer that call?
“Lord Jesus, I worship you. You created me in love, saved me through love, and fill me with love every day. I believe you have good things planned for me. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit. Help me to hear your voice and give me the grace to follow you today and always.”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org/ ), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism , (http://www2.wau.org/partners/ ), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us .
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/ ) for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What are they saying to you?
2. The article describes various aspects of following Jesus. How would you describe what it means to follow Jesus?
3. What are some of the obstacles you have that keep you from following Jesus? What steps can you take to overcome them?
4. In John 10:27, we hear these words: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Why is it important to “hear” Jesus’ voice if we are to follow him? What are the ways you hear his voice?
5. The article reminds us that Jesus “has been fitting you to serve him your whole life long.” In what ways has he been doing this in your life?
6. The article also says that “God has given you the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you . . . Welcome the Spirit into whatever you are doing today, and you will bear abundant fruit.” What role does the Holy Spirit play in leading and guiding you as you try to follow Jesus? What steps can you take to have him play an even greater role?
7. The article goes on to provide some examples of how we can follow Jesus: “Be open to opportunities to reach out to someone in need, to pray for someone who may be hurting or suffering, to encourage someone who is struggling, and to work together with other Catholic men to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to others.” What are some new things you, and the men in your group, can do to answer the call to follow Jesus?
8. If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another that each of you would be faithful to your call to follow Jesus. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point