Column: Jesus or bust — a story of discipleship

Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.
Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.

by Father Andrew Strobl

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ because I believe what Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).

However, I haven’t always believed those words of Jesus. For much of my life,
I placed other things in the center of my Sunday, my free time, and my hopes for the future.

I was a Christian like I was a Royals fan: semi-interested during the good times (like holidays or winning streaks), but never totally invested. Jesus was one of many relationships. He was important, but anyone observing closely could tell I wasn’t a diehard.

On July 15, 1998, I was forced to face the state of my discipleship. It was the day that my brother and I were standing next to my father’s bed in the ICU. He had been electrocuted, thrown off a building, and had crushed his spinal cord. The doctors told us that he only had a 2 percent chance of surviving that night.

Just before I witnessed our parish priest give my father the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, my dad spoke to my brother and me. He simply said, “It’s OK. I’m with Jesus.”

And there it was. At the most powerful moment of my life, the name of Jesus was spoken. The problem? I did not care. I cared that the doctors could fix my father. I cared about him living long enough to see my mother walk in the room. I didn’t care that my father was “with Jesus.”

It wasn’t until that night that it hit me: I was helpless. I couldn’t fix my father. I couldn’t keep him alive. I was not self-sufficient. I was not in control.

By the grace of God, I turned to Jesus Christ at that moment and prayed like there was no other option. It wasn’t easy to admit, but without Jesus I could do nothing. I had no “Plan B.” It was Jesus or bust.

By the grace of God, my father lived through that first night and every night since for the last 15 years. Most importantly, my dad is still “with Jesus.”

That’s my story of discipleship. When Archbishop Naumann appointed me director of evangelization for the archdiocese, he shared with me his desire for every person in the archdiocese

to be able to clearly explain why they are a disciple of Jesus Christ. We must be able to articulate our joy.

As Pope Francis tweeted on June 19: “Christians are ready to proclaim the Gospel because they can’t hide the joy that comes from knowing Christ.”

Evangelization is simple — invite others to share our joy.

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