Jeramiah, Nicodemus, you and I share a common path to discipleship.
First, we have a powerful encounter with God. It is personal, often intense, sometimes gradual, but always life changing.
Second, the values by which we’ve been living, in light of this encounter, are re-examined.
Perhaps we reassess time spent away from a spouse, children or friends in favor of our personal entertainment or demands at work. How much we drink, eat or exercise might get a serious assessment.
Perhaps our household budget gets a second look in light of the needs of the poor.
Or we might rethink the values of workplace associates, friends with whom we lunch or play. This could lead to shifting in our seats hearing gossip, denigrating remarks or personal, behind-the-back insults.
Thirdly, in prayerful reflection, we decide to honor our encounter with God and…change. This is risky. We might have to speak an unacceptable idea, withdraw from a group or a long term friendship. It always means being vulnerable. It also means chancing ridicule, alienation and retribution.
This final stage is what Jeramiah is describing in today’s reading and what Nicodemus experienced. The final stage is also what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary.
The path to discipleship is similar for everyone who is true to God. The circumstances of each life may be dramatically different; the decisions we make are, in essence, the same.
Regardless of our fear, anxiety or worry, we are assured that God will be present with us on the path and give us what we need for the journey. This brings a deep inner peace and joy the world can never provide.
Jim Wayne is a board member of the Passionists Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office, state legislator, and author of The Unfinished Man. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.