Jessica Peek ’14

Today Jesus’ recruitment strategy seems to miss the mark. How is he supporting potential disciples in their current circumstances while also exciting them to join his mission?

When Jesus receives his first avid recruit, he warns the man his mission will lead to challenges and suffering. Then Jesus asks another to follow him. The man makes one request—to bury his father. Jesus’ response seems harsh. Finally, another willing recruit wants to say goodbye to his family, and Jesus tells him not to look back on what he would be leaving.

Christ’s responses seem particularly cringe-worthy to me because I work as a college campus minister. I have to recruit retreat leaders and ministry helpers often. If I were as strict as Jesus when students shared similar family concerns with me, I would get a bad rap as an unreasonable minister.

As the Catholic church experiences decreased participation, I aim to make it easier for people to engage in whatever capacity they can—not to make it an all-or-nothing commitment that could inhibit engagement.

But as I reflect on this passage further, I realize that perhaps I have made the all too common mistake of misidentifying participation with discipleship. Jesus asks them to follow him, and as he is on a physical journey to Jerusalem, he wants them to journey with him—not just hang out for a little while.

Jesus’ journey was physical but also spiritual. Likewise, his invitation to follow him was and still is also spiritual—an invitation to intense, heart-rendering transformation.

As those who claim to be followers of Christ, we should not wait until we have settled our lives to turn our hearts towards Christ. We may not all be called to lay down our jobs or family responsibilities, but we all are called to follow God right now despite whatever burdens we carry.