(from: Lent with Pope Benedict XVI: Meditations for Every Day)
The expression “following of Christ” is a description of the whole of Christian existence. In what does it consist? What does “to follow Christ” actually mean? At the outset, with the first disciples, its meaning was very simple and immediate: It meant that to go with Jesus, these people decided to give up their profession, their affairs, their whole life. It meant undertaking a new profession: discipleship. The fundamental content of this profession was accompanying the Teacher and total entrustment to his guidance. The “following” was therefore something external but, at the same time very internal. The exterior aspect was walking behind Jesus on his journeys through Palestine. The interior aspect was the new existential orientation whose reference points were no longer in events, in work as a source of income, or in the personal will, but in total abandonment to the will of Another. Being at his disposal, henceforth, became the raison d’etre of life.
In certain Gospel scenes, we can recognize quite clearly that this means the renouncement of one’s possessions and detachment from oneself. But with this, it is also clear what “following” means for us and what its true essence is for us: It is an interior change of life. It requires me to be no longer withdrawn into myself, considering my own fulfillment the main reason for my life. It requires me to give myself freely to Another – for truth, for love, for God who, in Jesus Christ, goes before me and shows me the way.
It is a question of the fundamental decision to no longer consider usefulness and gain, my career and success, as the ultimate goals of my life, but instead to recognize truth and love as authentic criteria. It is a question of choosing between living only for myself or giving myself for what is greater. And let us understand properly that truth and love are not abstract values; in Jesus Christ they have become a Person. By following him I enter into the service of truth and love. By losing myself I find myself.
Kun, J. (Ed.). (2012). Lent with Pope Benedict XVI: Meditations for Every Day. Maryland: The Word Among Us Press.