January 29, 2018
Weekly Reflection – Staying With Jesus
Staying with Jesus and following in his footsteps.
By Guest Contributor Fr. Carlos Rodriguez, OCSO and Chaplain, Abbey of Gethsemani
(Fr. Carlos Rodriguez is a Trappist Monk who came originally from the Philippines. I have personally visited with him several times during the past few years. He preached this homily on January 14, one day before he began radiation and chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer. Carlos’ focus on the “common people” staying with Jesus, even during the tough times, is particularly touching. Note the last paragraph.)
John the Baptist was true to himself when he said, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” He points to Jesus that his disciples may follow Jesus. John was the one making the path ready for the coming of the Lord. His joy was to lead others to Jesus. He knew it was his mission. This was his greatness. Jesus said no one born of a woman is greater than John.
Andrew followed the footsteps of John by saying that he and his companion had found the Messiah they had been looking for. He and the other disciple of John must have been captivated by the countenance and the spirit that Jesus exuded. They did not hesitate to ask Jesus, “Where do you stay, Rabbi?”
It is an unusual question to ask someone where he stays or “How long will you stay?” Usually, we ask where is someone’s house/home located. To use “stay” implies non-permanency. Besides, we typically don’t ask someone we meet for the first time, “Where do you live?” But that is what happens when we get captivated by the person of Jesus. We want to be with him. We want to stay with him. We want to know him. We wish we also had his wisdom and peace. We are ready to follow wherever he wants to go.
When we met Jesus in our lives for the first time, you and I have different stories to tell. Our hearts were filled with peace and joy of being with him. Those are the initial stages of our becoming a disciple of Jesus. There was the essential basic trust in Jesus that is required in order to be a true disciple. This basic trust is what makes us persevere and remain faithful to Christ.
Admittedly, when we become disciples of Christ, that is believe in him, there are a lot of questions that come just as the disciples had them. Jesus is not like any leader or prophet whose background can be investigated. In the person of Jesus, we are also confronted by a mystery. Not something we do not know but a reality that is so deep and profound that when we think we know it, we are led deeper into it.
We are breathless, and we realize that the reality of Jesus is infinite. The logic of faith takes over human reasoning. Like Andrew and his companion, they are willing to go where no one has gone before, that is, into the mystery of the person of Jesus.
However, when Jesus looks at us, he knows us more than we can ever know ourselves. So when Jesus accepts us, you can be very sure that he loves us and he sees and knows in us that which can make us a good disciple of his if only we trust him even if others do not like us. The confidence of a disciple is to be curious about who Jesus is. Then the disciple is invited by Jesus into his home, which is really his heart.
Jesus did not stay long in one place. He really had no home. As he said, “Foxes have dens, birds a nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head on.” The disciples stayed for a day or two; however, for us, we stay till the end of our lives.
Why did Jesus choose a tax collector? Why not John or one of from the Essenes who were very spiritual. We must remember that at the time of Jesus, only the elite and the learned were privy to God. They were closest to salvation. Torah is learned, and the more you know about it, the nearer you are to God.
Jesus chose the disciples to show that through ordinary people, the power of God will be at work. It is not the greatest of a human being that God is glorified. It is the humble, lowly, sinful, marginalized human being where the power of God can be most clearly seen.
To stay with Jesus is to discover the heart of Jesus, to learn how to relate to God the father by watching him and most of all to trust when things that happen are painful and hard to understand. To stay with him means to wait for the day when he tells each and every one of us, “I will remain in you always. My father and I will live in you.”
We will be one with Jesus and the Father. From physical nearness to inner intimacy, a communion of spirits no longer hampered by time and space. All disciples must transmit this experience to others. We fail to be true disciples if we do not.
Blessings and peace,
Note: The Chaplain has slightly edited this Reflection from the original in view of our worldwide audience.
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