“Come After Me” is Jesus’s invitation. “Come After Me.”
Last Friday, there was a great induction to a Hall of Fame, and in a couple of weeks, an event is coming up where over 100,000 people have already bought tickets for it, and it’s been sold out eight years in a row. Does anybody know what I’m talking about? Do we have any NASCAR fans? Daytona 500. Alright, two people will understand this homily; that’s good.
Daytona 500 is the big event, and the Daytona 500 is pretty much a round circle. But there’s always something they have at every NASCAR and all racing events, actually, and it’s called a lead car. There is a lead car that’s at every event, and the lead car serves a couple of purposes:
- Before the race starts, they take all the cars out in their lap, and the car leads them around the track a time or two, so they can get a feel of the track. They can see the curves. They can get an idea of what they’re in for. It also serves a purpose because the crowd can kind of look at the cars and cheer on their favorite person. But the car leads them first around the track.
- Whenever there’s a hazard or a crash or something like that, the yellow flags get waved, and the lead car comes back out again and goes on the track keeping the drivers going slow, a little bit slower than they would but still moving. They have to stay in the order that they’re in and follow that lead card so that they can avoid any hazards on the track or any accidents. So again, the car leads them slowly around the track.
- It sets the speed for the Pit Stop. The cars at NASCAR don’t have speedometers in them, so the pit car drives at the speed that they should be going through the Pit Stop to keep everybody safe and to give them a chance to make their Pit Stop.
What does this have to do with Jesus, right? “Come after me.” Jesus is the lead car in our lives first. He goes first, and we go after Him. By going first, first of all, he takes us on the track of life and shows us the way. The way for us is kind of like the Daytona 500; we all know it. So the way of life that he has shown us is that we will live with Him, and if we suffer with Him, we will die with Him. If we die with Him, we will rise with Him. He has shown us the way of our life. The way of the Paschal mystery that He went first, and we’re following after.
The first thing is that He leads us through life and through death, and finally, The Resurrection.
The second thing is when there are cautions or hazards in our lives; He is also leading us. So, when our lives turn out to be a mess, or there are in shambles, or there is a tragedy, or something happens, we need Him to lead us, and we need Him to guide us through those times in our lives. We heard in the first reading and in the Gospel, “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.” We have seen a great light because we know and we follow Jesus.
The third and final thing is He takes us to the Pit Stops. So, every once in a while in our lives, we need to take a Pit Stop, be refueled, get new tires, and go back in the race. Racers in NASCAR do this regularly throughout the race.
Here’s our Pit Stop. Every Sunday, we come here, and we need to come here so that we can be refueled by the Eucharist. We can have our sins forgiven and get new tires and then return to the world. The call of the disciples it’s really important to realize that when Jesus calls them and He says, “Drop your nets and come and follow me,” He’s not just saying, “Drop your nets and go out there and figure it out.” He’s saying, “Come and follow me. I’m going to lead you. I’m going to show you the way.”
Often in our lives we forget that He’s leading us. Times when there are confusions. Times where there is a tragedy. Times where there’s a difficulty. We forget He’s leading us; we follow after Him. We’re not leading ourselves, and we don’t have to lead ourselves though sometimes we like to drive our own speed limit. Sometimes we would like to go faster or slower than life calls us. Sometimes He slows us down; sometimes, He speeds us up, but it’s important to realize that we have Him as a leader, and He tells us to come after Him and follow Him.
So, today as we take our Pit Stop, as we come to this Eucharist and receive the Eucharist, ask that He gives us, refuels us, and gives us that new life to follow Him.
Remember, when we leave the church today, we have him as our lead power. He’s leading you throughout your life, and He is showing you the way so that each and every one of you and me will suffer, we will die, and we will rise if we do it with Him and if we let Him lead us.
So, as you get ready for this Daytona 500, we’re all going to watch that, right? Just let it be a reflection that we do have a lead car in. He’s showing us the way; He’s guiding us through difficulties; He’s giving us that rest and renewal that we need, and He’s taking us through the Paschal mystery: suffering, dying, and one-day eternal life.