Our journey of faith is a never-ending one. It is one where we constantly come to know the Father through Jesus. It parallels the journey of the first disciples. God is always the one who speaks first, who acts first, who loves first. And discipleship always involves a call - an invitation requiring a response. But without faith, without trust, there can be no discipleship. The Gospel tells us that the real sign of discipleship is trust in Jesus and who he is for us.
Discipleship was never going to be easy. Jesus knew this; his first follwers knew this and so should we. Being a disciple implies that one has to make hard choices. We will not always get what we want. We may find ourselves at odds with others who do not share our values. It's not easy to do what needs to be done, to say what needs to be said and to work things out when it bothers us to compromise.
But we are told: "Do not be afraid. Fear no one." God knows when even tiny sparrow "falls to the ground." There is an omnious tone to this, a hint that the disciples themselves might have to face even death as Jesus' followers. Death may not be what is asked of us, but living that faith does have its costs and may even cause pain, or at the very least daily sacrifice and inconvenience.
What does all of this mean for us?
We need to look at the signs of our time, and examine our response to them in the light of the Gospel. We need look at our lives, and how open we are to His presence within them. We need to be attentive to the signs of His presence around us. We need to focus on how His words affect our day-to-day lives and our relationships with one another. The signs are there... they are around us every day and they are not pretty or peaceful.
And so our response must be one of trust - not one of fear. We must speak in the light when we find ourselves in darkness. We must proclaim on the housetops what we hear whispered in darkness. We are not to fear, because God cares about each of us and every part of us, right down to the hairs on our heads. If birds fall under God’s care, how much more do we? There's no guarantee that we will have an easy ride as God’s people, but Jesus reassures us that in the face of trials and perhaps even death, God will care for us.
Christianity is more than words or symbolic actions. It begins within our hearts, but it cannot remain there. We cannot claim discipleship by whispering in the darkness. Discipleship is taking the Gospel message and making it concrete in our world. It is only by acting with trust and courage that we can renew and change the face of the earth.
One of our local parish priests put it quite simply: "Evil ignored is evil that grows. Sin not rejected is sin committed. Injustice uncorrected is injustice accepted. If we want to put an end to evil and oppression, then we must all work to end injustice, for there is no true peace without justice."