What does it mean to be a true Disciple of Christ and to truly follow Him? To live according to the Gospel, seeking constantly through prayer to be close to Jesus, Lectio Divina (praying with Scriptures), knowing and understanding the teachings of the Church and to seek to live a life of self-giving love and charity; living for God and for others. These are some of the most important things which constitute a True Disciple. There can be a tendency for us to lend ourselves to a “cafeteria-style” faith life. That is, to do the things we like to do or agree with and to ignore the things which we don’t like or agree with or don’t understand and so we dismiss these Christian ideals as “too hard to understand”. Cafeteria Christianity is a deadly brand of the watering down of faith to the point it really can become irrelevant because we all stand for something different and there is little unity among Christians and the message of Christ. It also divide us because we all see Jesus and His Teachings as we want to see them and really the only way for us to grow in understanding is in the direction of our own interpretation of things. Of course, Christians aren’t robots and we don’t all see things exactly the same way, but this is where the Church plays its role. The Church is not stodgy old men in Rome or abroad making all the decisions or telling us how to think. The Church is profound, mysterious, not merely a human reality; but the vehicle or instrument God chooses to continue to convey and perpetuate His message to us to this day! I know that many of us, and I’ve certainly fallen into this trap too; have criticized Church teaching and stand adamantly opposed to the “teachings of the Church” or “tenets of faith”. In my own desire to be a true follower of Christ, I have had to admit to myself that when I take a strong position like this, I am also quite likely not to have a full or complete understanding of what and why I am opposed to a particular matter. At times, the best I can do is reserve judgment or opinion and make sure that I am clear that I do not understand enough about a particular matter to disagree with it.
I try hard not to be a “cafeteria Christian” because I have come to see that not only does this not get me very far, it also places myself (not Christ) at the center of faith and the message. Our Gospel today speaks of ten bridesmaids who go about with frivolous work that doesn’t really prepare them to meet the Lord face-to-face. This is not where we want to be. It may seem like we have a lifetime to figure this all out, and in some ways we do (the Lord knows we are all a work in progress) but I can’t imagine that it’s not our desire to be on the “right path”, doing the right things, moving in the right direction. What is that direction? Listen to the Lord’s Word, hear what He is telling us, turn to the Lord’s Church, He has given us it for a reason. We need to live like Jesus Himself, and if we use Him as our model and guide we can’t go wrong.