McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases,
tells a story of a young woman who wanted
to go to college, but her heart sank when
she read the question on the application
form that asked, 'Are you a leader?' She
looked squarely at herself and realized that
being a leader was not her character. Being
a straightforward girl she just jotted down
a simple 'No' and returned the application.
She was sure she will never be admitted.
So it was a big surprise when she received
this letter from the College: "Dear
Applicant: A study of the application forms
reveals that this year our college will have
1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because
we feel it is imperative that they have at
least one follower."
This simple story says everything. Life is
made of choices. A good choice leads to serenity;
a bad choice leads to problems. The critical
choice that we have to do constantly in life
is this - do I want to be a god of my life
or let Someone else lead my life? Do I accept
the simple obvious fact that I am a creature
or do I want to determine the way my life
I was at the barber when I saw this young
man in his twenties carrying a small bag
around his body with many tubes coming out
of it. There was blood flowing in these tubes.
The barber asked him why he is carrying this
bag. I could not help not overhearing the
story that this man was telling… how one
day he noticed a tiny blemish on his back
that then developed in a massive scar. It
was skin cancer. He had to spend Christmas
in bed after the two surgeries he had to
do and now he was waiting for his third and
The words that Jesus Christ said to Simon
and Andrew at the Sea of Galilee came to
my mind 'Follow Me'. God was marking this
route for this young man. He could rebel
and be grumpy. He could accept and follow
the road that God was opening for Him.
I am not a scholar, but the abrupt introduction
of this scene by Mark in chapter one, presented
with the simplest of grammatical connections,
keeps the interaction in this 'calling' scene
to a bare minimum. Invitation may be too
delicate a word to describe the call Jesus
issued toward his future disciples. It was
more like a command than a request.
The same words "Follow Me" came
forcefully in my mind when I received a rather
hurtful email interpreting my actions and
accusing me of things I never even dreamt
of doing, let alone actually doing them.
I could have rebelled and fought back (and
become bitter) but this inside voice told
me that this is an opportunity of becoming
a little bit like My Master. I can never
be like Jesus Christ in virtue, but perhaps
accepting this humiliation and this pain
can make me in some way be like Him.
"Obstacles are those frightful things
you see when you take your eyes of the goals",
said this framed picture, with the one full-size
word 'FOCUS' branded in gold. And faith is
to the willingness to see these obstacles
as the intrusions of God to convert us to
Conversion means following Christ. Following
Christ means obeying him. Obeying sometimes
means doing things one does not understand
or even agree with.
But obeying is more undemanding than ordering.
A leader has so many things on his mind.
He must overseer over everything, be ready
to tackle any bumps that come on the way,
solve the problems to keep the job flowing.
The follower simply has to … go behind! 'Just
tell me what to do and I do it!' There is
no need for him to think too much. He can
worry less and enjoy more.
That is why it is about time to stop for
a minute and look at the basic assumptions
of our life and perhaps make real changes.
"Courage after all does not always roar.
Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end
of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'."
This is another motivational sentence that
has been framed beautifully by a business
Merle Miller wrote a biography of the US
president Lyndon Johnson. In it, he quotes
the President saying in 1969, after he had
left office, "I never felt I had the
luxury of re-examining my basic assumptions.
Once the decision to commit military force
was made, all our energies were turned to
vindicating that choice and finding a way
somehow to make it work."
And, of course, it was that failure to reexamine
the basic assumption that shaped the tragedy
of the Johnson government - at the expense
of thousands of lives.
Saint Augustine once wrote, "What do
I want? What do I desire? What do I burn
for? Why do I live? There is one only reason:
so that together we might live with Christ."
So it is very understandable why the
first and the very last words that
said to Peter were "Follow Me".
Because in these simple two words lies
secret of life.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright