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 with whom Jesus developed real relationships.

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, empower, and support one other.

We are to go out, encounter, and make time for each other by exchanging the stories of our tragedies and our triumphs. Even during a pandemic, we are to resist the temptation of withdrawing into our own bubbles. Instead, we need to take the risk to be vulnerable with one another, obviously to do so more carefully and prudently during this pandemic by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and pracitcing social distancing. Relationships are messy but with commitment, God, and an open heart and mind, we can grow closer together.

JoAnn and I experienced this gift of fellowship when we joined a small group at our parish. We learned about and grew in our faith, yes, but more importantly built relationships grounded in our mutual respect for one other even when we disagreed. We have shared stories and explored the good, the bad, and the ugly, of our lives.

We forged such a bond that JoAnn and I agreed without hesitation that each one of the members of our group would play a significant and intimate part in JoAnn’s funeral Mass. JoAnn is still a part of our group as she prepares the way for us to follow and still reminds Giovanna that we need to break by 8:30 because it is a school night and I need to get to sleep! Since my time of recovery, I have been able to attend less even though we meet on ZOOM. My hope is that my strength with return soon and I can return to our weekly gatherings.

Jesus chooses each one of us to accompany him and to forge relationships grounded in mutual respect, where no one is last and where no person is left behind. This is what our faith is all about and this is why we are a joyful people, an alleluia people, even while it appears sometimes the world is coming apart at the seams.


Photo: Our small group celebrating two years together.

Mass readings for Friday, September 17, 2021

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