A Cycle – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 23
I am still thinking about John the Baptists comment from last week’s gospel stating about Jesus that he “…did not know him.” But we know he did know him from his childhood and certainly understood the promise of God to send a Messiah. We know any uncertainty of Jesus being the Messiah was cleared up when John said, “the one which you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with Spirit and water.”
Have you ever wondered about your own encounter with Christ? That one we know is going to come someday. Did you ever desire an encounter with Christ that moves you in a way that all uncertainty about how God views you is to discover he views us as he created us, in his image. If you pay attention to the scriptures, you will hear Jesus telling us his desire to reveal himself to us. Yet we doubt who we are and what we are in his sight because we know our hearts are far from being centered on God. We know we have fallen short of what God requires of us and that failure compels us to strive to be better. We desire to be better at following Jesus because we know that one day that encounter with God is coming.
If you think about today’s gospel you will see how foolish our thinking is about what we need to be approved by Jesus. What qualities did Peter and Andrew, James and John have that made them the ones to receive the invitation to follow him. Not just follow him but to become “fishers of men.” They were not trained in the scriptures, nor did they possess any ability to be role models for holiness.
At least not at that moment in their lives. Why did Jesus choose these fishermen, for their job as fishermen isolated them from contact with the masses. Their occupation did not allow them to live a standard of living other than a borderline existence in poverty. Yet Jesus did choose them, just as He tells us we called and chosen by God.
Perhaps we misunderstand the invitation of Christ to follow Him, to come to Him, to acknowledge Him. When that call comes to us and it will come, it will be hard to resist. Believe me, I know from personal experience. The truth is, we do want all Jesus promises us, fullness of life, intimacy with the Father, forgiveness of our sins and eternal life because we believe.
We want all of that while at the same time, we are unwilling to leave the comfort of our religion as we practice it today. We have been taught from an early age that if we follow the laws of the Church, if we do anything to grow in our faith or give of ourselves in service to the Church, we will be ok.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John would have learned those very same things. As Jews, they would have at a minimum studied the first five books of the Old Testament, (the Pentateuch). They would have prayed the required prayers three times a day. They would have been present in the Temple for all the major feast days as required by the law. But now they find themselves invited by Jesus to do more and they respond without hesitation. Leaving everything behind to follow the one they like John do not know yet. We know how it ended for them; we know the challenges to their faith they experienced while following him. Yet in the end, after three years of following Jesus, they only had more uncertainty. The scriptures tell us they did not understand his death and resurrection.
Neither do we understand how we are called to follow him. Like them we are invited to leave the comfort of what we know to follow Christ without knowing where he is leading us or what he will require of us. We are being called to believe and to respond to what we say we believe by abandoning all we know for a journey we do not know where it will take us, all the while knowing it is a journey where Christ will be very present to us.
It is a journey where the Spirit will begin to teach us to listen to the voice of the shepherd. Where the Spirit will open the scriptures for us to grow in our knowledge and experience of the Father. Where we will make mistakes and feel the arms of Jesus embracing us and helping us grow from our mistakes.
Today’s reading is more about how we will respond and not about how those four men responded. Jesus tells us he is standing at our door of our hearts and knocking and if we open it for him to enter and he will sit with us and talk to us just as He did the disciples. He will send us off to proclaim the good news, to heal the broken hearted and to proclaim God is on our land.
The only words you should hear in this gospel today is Jesus saying, “follow me.”