Who are we following? Whether we realize it or not, we are following someone in some way. As Catholics we are called to be disciples of Jesus. Disciple means to follow, we are called to follow Jesus. Jesus should be the one who leads us, who influences our decisions, who guides us in our life.
But, in reality we are often influenced by many others. Often without realizing it. Advertising comes at us from everywhere. On our social media sites we have advertising directed at us using algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves at times. So, corporations, political figures, various ideological forces are at work trying to guide us and lead our choices.
Many of these forces that we follow encourage us to be greedy, selfish or leads us towards hatred and anger towards a certain group of people. Usually a small and weak and vulnerable group.
Leadership and who we follow matters. In our world we see the results of bad leadership. In Sudan, two opposing military leaders are fighting for authority, leading the country into violence and destroying so much. The leadership of Vladimir Putin has moved a country into a destructive war doing so much damage. How many young people on both sides being killed and injured as they are forced to follow harmful leaders.
Parents are often concerned with who their children follow. They are worried they will end up in a bad group that will lead them astray!
Who we follow matters. There was a story from Kenya last week about a cult leader who supposedly encouraged his followers to fast to death in order to get to heaven.
Who we follow matters. We need to ask ourselves about anyone we are following. Where are they leading us? Does it lead us to harm, for us and others? Does it lead us away from virtue and goodness? Does it lead us to hatred or prejudice towards certain people?
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. When we follow Jesus we are led in good directions. He says that “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus leads us first of all by example, we see the way by the model of life he provides for us. Jesus leads us by guiding us through the Holy Spirit.
Choose wisely who you are following in your life. Look to Jesus as the one to follow. For Jesus will lead you on a path that brings life, that moves you into truth and goodness, the way that leads to eternal life. When we follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we will find a place of peace.
All of us need to carefully review our life. Who am I following? Who is influencing my decisions, my thinking and my priorities? In the Gospels, in prayer, in the Sacraments allow Jesus to be the one you follow.