Follow Me or Not

prairie-1246633_1280The Mass reading on Sunday was one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. It is when Jesus calls the first apostles to follow him. According to Matthew 4:22, “He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed Him.” It is no wonder that this story has such a long-lasting impression on us: these men had faith enough in God and his plan that they gave up everything to follow Jesus, a stranger to them!

We may not be able to imagine ourselves in the same position as Peter, Andrew, James, and John. I don’t think any of us are fishermen, nor do I think Jesus will walk up to us and actually say “Follow Me.” But just as he called the first apostles, he is calling each and every one of us to follow him every day in every way.

We may not be asked by a stranger to walk away from our jobs or our family, but we are called to put God first in every thought, every word, every action. Everything we do in using the time, talent and treasure God has given to us is a way to follow him.

We also have the choice to turn away from him in our selfishness.

Think about the last month—where did you spend your time, your talents and your treasure? Those places are an indication of your priorities. You can tell a lot about what people consider important by looking at their credit card statements, bank account records, and their calendar. Where we spend our time, our talents and our treasure indicate what is most dear to us. How much of those three precious commodities was dedicated to God and how much was dedicated to achieving what the world considers success?

We are inundated with the message that we can never be happy, or fulfilled, satisfied or successful until we conform to the world’s standards —spending time watching TV or surfing the net, spending our talent in ways that may not always honor God and spending our money accumulating more and more of the stuff the world considers important.

The problem is that using our God-given time, talent and treasure in a way the world considers important rarely provides long-term satisfaction. If we are seeking true happiness according to the world, then we constantly turn our thoughts and desires to the next thing the world offers us. We stay in a state of churn, relentlessly seeking more and more of what the world tells us is worthy.

We have many idols in our lives today and they all stem from the spirit of the world. Money, consumerism, greed, and coveting the possessions of other people are just a few of the many idols. Delve deeper into the last month and write down where you spent your time, your talents and your treasure. Put that piece of paper in a place where you can pray about what’s on it. Are these the things that God really wants you to be focused on? Are these helping you answer Jesus’ call to “Follow Me”?

Our time, talent and treasure help us achieve the specific mission God has for each of us. The mission hasn’t changed in the past 2000 years. We are called to share God’s word with everyone we meet, right here, right now with what we have. We must come to understand that God has a specific, unique plan for each of us—even if we cannot immediately see it. As stewards who gladly acknowledge that we belong to the Lord, we must make sacrifices and prayerful choices in order to spread his word and blessings to the world.

You may not think your talents are very special, but you do have talents. Try listing each of them and beside each one, note some ways you can use them to follow Jesus. As someone who runs a ministry, I can assure you that all types of skills are much needed and appreciated in serving God’s people. Even someone who is homebound and confined to bed can offer prayers on behalf of others. We all have something to give.

When we think of treasure, we often think about money, but treasure also includes our stuff. Our attitude toward material things can be the problem when things have a more important place in our lives than our mission to proclaim the good news. Often our energy and focus are diverted from our faith life into collecting and maintaining the things we have – the house, the car, the boat, the investments, etc. Our focus can get skewed so it is on our stuff and not on God.

We are called in much the same way as the first apostles were—though we are not expected to leave everything behind. Instead, our mission is to use the time, talent and treasure God’s given us to serve him. “Follow Me” involves responsibly planning how we’ll occupy our time, use our talent and spend our treasure in the manner God intended. It also involves strength and bravery to set aside our love of worldly ways for a higher purpose.

“You have a gift. You have a talent. Find your gift. Find your talent. And use it. You can make life better in this world just by letting your light shine and by doing your part.” Sr. Thea Bowman

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