Lent is good time to ask ourselves if we are a disciple of Jesus or just an admirer.
In a blog last year I mentioned Clarence Jordan, author of Cotton Patch Gospels, wrote of the difference between a follower of Christ and an admirer of Christ. The follower or disciple takes up his Cross daily (Luke 9:23) and follows Jesus. The admirer of Christ follows Jesus, but not to the Cross, as Jordan put it An admirer is unwilling to share in the crucifixion.
Today we might call the admirer a casual or possibly an occasional Christian. I am reminded of a cab driver in Mexico City, who, when asked if he was Catholic, answered “Si, soy Católico pero no soy un fanático”, that is “Yes, I am Catholic but not a fanatic.” He might be called a casual Catholic.
The occasional Catholic will make it to Mass on Christmas and Easter, and, of course, on Ash Wednesday but more important things seem to come up on most Sundays. They might be Catholics who carefully choose what portion of the Gospel to adhere to, possibly finding that other parts are uncomfortable or are not politically correct.
It is not easy to be a disciple of Christ. Carrying a Cross is a heavy burden and occasionally we stumble and fall. The challenge is to get up, take up the Cross again and push on. All of us are weak and far from perfect. Those of us who are called to preach the Gospel are well aware of our unworthiness, but we are also aware that if the Gospel is not preached by sinners there is no one to preach it.
The Cross is the problem. It was for Jesus. That is why he agonized at Gethsemane. Like Jesus, Gethsemane goes with taking up the cross daily. The Cross can overwhelm us, but it becomes much lighter when we embrace it.
It is far easier to be an admirer of Jesus; to stand at a distance at his crucifixion and think what a good person he was or what a shame he didn’t know when to stop.
Are we followers or admirers? Each of us must search our heart for the answer.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish