3rd Sunday Ordinary Time
January 22, 2017
In this Sunday’s gospel (Matt. 4:12-17) we are early in Jesus’ ministry. He has just moved to Capernaum after being baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus is attracting huge crowds, so much so that he found need to use a boat to push off a short distance from the shore and teach from there: the boat of Peter and Andrew. Walking along the shore at a later time, Jesus spots the two brothers and simply calls them to “follow me”. They do so, and their lives change forever.
James and John, fishing partners of Peter and Andrew, were next to be invited. Did they even have a clue as to what they were getting into? Of course, they did not. Jesus makes it appear almost as if he chose the first four guys he laid eyes on! Of course, he was very careful in choosing them, but the point is, these four disciples were extraordinary choices precisely because they were so ordinary. These disciples were not theologians. No, they were, in fact, “blue collar workers”: fisherman who worked the land and the sea. Over the course of their lives, how they must have remembered that call, that day when they said yes to God and their lives changed forever!
Jesus, too, calls out to each and every one of us. We each have a unique vocation to “follow Christ”. Each and every one of us have a crucial and irreplaceable role to fill, foreseen by God from all eternity! Almost all of us have, in reality, very ordinary lives, not so very much different, after all, than Peter, Andrew, James and John. These individuals had to say yes at that precise moment in time, or the opportunity of a lifetime would have been lost forever. In the same way, life sometimes presents us with opportunities to deepen our walk with Christ. What opportunities might Christ be using to call you to a closer discipleship with him today?
Peter is said to have died on a cross, upside down, Andrew, on a cross shaped like an “X”. James was the first disciple to die by being beheaded. John lived a long life, but died in exile. None of them knew that these sacrifices lay in the future because they said yes to Jesus that day. These men only knew they had to take the risk of following Christ more closely, and it had to be done right then. Jesus knew that in order for them to live their vocations and glorify God in this way, they had to love him.
Like the disciples, when a couple takes their marriage vows, they commit themselves to something without knowing what sacrifices lie ahead. The same is true of a priest at ordination. Similarly, our Lord will periodically spot us going about the business of our lives, fishing, as it were. He will look straight at us and say “follow me once again”. Let us pray we will not miss our opportunities when God offers them to us.