Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women (Lk 8:1-2).
A simple statement to be sure, but very significant in how Jesus again is showing us how to live our lives as followers, disciples of him. Jesus, as I have written many times, is fully human and fully divine. What he has done and is doing as the Son of God incarnate is to draw close to us in our humanity, as a human being, so that we can enter into a relationship with him and his Father through the love of the Holy Spirit, thus becoming one with him in his divinity.
From the beginning of his public ministry and throughout, he is inviting people to participate in his life and the kingdom of Heaven which is at hand in his very presence. Time and time again Jesus does so by building relationships with people. This is how Luke can write the verses that Jesus was accompanied by the Twelve and Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and Susanna. These were real people and real relationships he developed.
Jesus invited people to experience and build a relationship with him. Christianity is not a Lone Ranger religion, it is not the survival of the fittest, and Jesus did not teach that we have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We are created by God to be in communion, to be in a relationship with him and one another, and that means we need to accompany and empower each other.
We are to go out, encounter, and get to know one another by making time for each other, and hearing the stories of our tragedies and our triumphs. It means resisting the temptation of withdrawing into our own bubbles and taking the risk to be vulnerable with one another. Relationships are messy, but they just fall apart when we decide to go it alone.
JoAnn and I experienced this gift of fellowship in a powerful way over the past two and a half years when we became a part of a small group at our Church. The eight of us met weekly, learned about our faith, yes, but more importantly built relationships by being willing to encounter and respect each other even when we disagreed, and share the stories, the good, bad and the ugly, of our lives. We forged such a bond that when JoAnn and I were planning her funeral, we each agreed without hesitation that each one of the members of our group would play a significant and intimate part in her funeral Mass.
Being willing to encounter, accompany, risk, and forge relationships grounded in respect and love for Jesus and one another, where no person is left behind, is what our faith is all about.
Photo: Our small group getting together last year to celebrate two years of fellowship.