Dear Followers of Jesus,
I am always amazed how Jesus shows up in our lives. He always wants something. In today’s gospel, Mark 1:14-20, Jesus calls disciples who are casting their nets into the sea. These men are doing what they know best, making a living for their families using their talents and gifts. Jesus invites them to consider something else.
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I can’t imagine how these ordinary men first heard this. The story is very direct with little nuance. The men hear him and simply follow him. I wish our faith and leadership was so clear and direct. At least in my life and I suspect in yours, it is not so easy to drop everything and follow Jesus.
These gospels from Mark in the first weeks of Ordinary Time invite us to reflect on the initial “authority” of Jesus. From his baptism, Jesus begins his public ministry with great personal authority that others understood as coming from the Father. This profound personal authority in his speech and actions flows down to our generation as well.
In these past weeks, we have cultivated a new desire for God in Advent. We have seen the miracles of the Incarnation in the Christmas season and now we begin a ministry with Jesus that uses our gifts, talents and energy for the good. Jesus is casting a net into our hearts and waiting for us to follow with clarity, longing and hope.
I invite you to sit with Jesus in prayer this week with a view of allowing him to ask you something new. What is Jesus asking of you to change, develop or offer to other people? How can you receive the net Jesus casts out to the world? What will Jesus catch with you? Apathy or good will? Attention to him or neglect and self-sufficiency?
The disciples change within an instant. Would you do such a thing… as change? What would your response be to Jesus’ call to follow?
These gospels form us in our discipleship. We need to turn to the disciples that Jesus first called in order to find our way into the heart of Christ. In our parish community, I witness daily how all of you are willing to lay down your net and start something new. The ways you enter into a nursing home and provide Eucharist and your presence among the sick. The ways you are changed and challenged by your children. You serve people beyond your expertise. You welcome the stranger as your brothers and sisters.
Sometimes Jesus invites the people we least expect. Perhaps that is your heart. We are all open to the God of surprises. You might also reflect upon how you are being called into serving in ways you have least expected. There is always growth, insight and perhaps even laughter connecting to how Jesus invites us, who seem the least among his followers.
During this time, I ask that you pray for the completion of Sacred Heart Church.
Blessings to you,