Sunday January 26, 2020
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Followers of Jesus,
In Matthew 4:12-23, Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to follow him. This stark conversation illuminates the beauty and simplicity of Jesus’ desire to reveal his mission among the people. This short narrative also shows us how convincing Jesus must have been to those men, for they left everything in order to follow him.
They immediately left their father and their nets in order to follow Jesus. This means they left their blood relationships, their heritage, to inherit a new set of relationships that had yet to be outlined or revealed. They also left their livelihood. The questions of financial support or how they would survive with Jesus are not asked here. Jesus’ invitation must have been incredibly convincing. This encounter among Jesus and Peter and Andrew is a great mystery. It seems beyond our comprehension.
Following Jesus is more than white knuckling life. We don’t adhere to Church teaching out of fear. Our fear will not redeem anything or anyone. Only love redeems. Jesus’ invitation for us is to offer our lives, including our fear into the mystery of his presence. Faith is reliance on God. Faith is not reliance on our control. Faith is not creating our lives that seem more pietistic or better than our neighbor. Faith is not about comparing our lives to those who are different from us.
Faith is allowing God to reveal within our heart that we are loved and forgiven. Faith compels us into relationship with others. Faith offers love and tenderness within our hearts that create community, relationships and peace. Faith does not harm or put down the stranger. Faith does not create divides. Faith does not hold fast to the past. Faith opens us to the beauty and wonder of life. Faith is surrender to God in our lives, in our times and relationships.
As we reflect on our faith and trust in God in these first few weeks of Ordinary Time, we are challenged to see how the first disciples of Jesus left everything in order to follow him. Our stories are not as stark. Our stories are told over the course of years and even lifetimes. We do carry many responsibilities. We have to support children and elderly parents and pay the rent and buy groceries. However, our faith in real life helps us find love in every action and in every child. God’s love is often hidden in the place we least expect, in the gift of our own human heart.
Faith generates gratitude and witness. We are compelled to give away what we discover in following Jesus. Love overflows within us if we are rooted in the heart of Christ, and in the hope of our Church. There are many obstacles in life, but faith helps us see and hear the love of Christ that changes everything. All things are possible in God. Sometimes we are called to allow God to be God, because we finally come to the realization that we are not. How beautiful to leave the nets of the past on the seashore and follow the person of Christ Jesus.