Responding to Jesus who says “follow me” | Concluding Homily of the Continental Congress in Jakarta

The first Continental Congress for Formators of the two Conferences in Asia (EAC and SAOOC) concluded on Friday evening, July 7, 2017.   After a week of intense work, the brothers have produced a short document (Statement) entitled, “Accompaniment in Fraternal Life”.  It is divided into three sections: the first part presents Our Vision for Accompaniment in our Franciscan fraternity. This vision has guided the deliberations and will enliven the endeavours as the brothers seek to deepen the understanding of the significance of accompaniment to Franciscan life.  Section two will present an understanding of Our Present Reality as it has unfolded in the conversations during the fraternal gathering. Section three will outline The Journey to a New Vision and a New Reality which will present some methods on moving  towards the renewed vision and new reality of Franciscan Accompaniment.

At the concluding Mass of the meeting, Br. Cesare Vaiani, General Secretary for Formation and Studies, reflected on the ongoing invitation of Jesus to follow Him.  Here’s an excerpt of the concluding homily:

The decision to follow Jesus needs to be renewed every day. These days we have talked a lot about ongoing formation. We said that it is necessary to assume an attitude available to change something in our lives every day. Ongoing formation is about our ordinary life, rather than extraordinary initiatives. Even Matthew, sitting at the customs post, was doing his ordinary job. In his ordinary life Jesus came in, with authority and gentleness: “Follow Me”.

The word “follow me” indicates a path, a movement. We can’t follow someone standing still. We can’t follow someone without getting into the game, without changing what we are doing. We have to be careful to give the right answer for each moment. Jesus’ call to follow him asks that we are available for a permanent change. Permanent or ongoing formation is this permanent change, which wants to answer the word of Jesus: “Follow me”.

[…]

In the following part of Francis’s life we also find many vocations. We can remember his call to go East, among the Saracens and other non-believers: for three times he tries to realize this project, and only the third time he can meet the Sultan. We find the difficult call of the fraternal relationship, which challenges Francis with the arrival of many brothers proposing important changes. We encounter the tough call that came to him from the ongoing changes in the Order, to which he replied with his resignation from Minister General. Another call of God reaches Francis at La Verna, which once again indicates to follow Jesus on the way of the cross. In the last two years of his life we can recognize another call, to which he responds in the Canticle of Creatures, expressing a new look on creation and his own life. And finally, we can mention the last and supreme call of “our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape”.

All Francis’ life is marked by his will to respond again to the challenging calls of the Lord. Like Francis, we too want to welcome the call of the Lord that today repeats “follow me”.