We all like feeling secure, don’t we? We like to be without anxiety, with no care in the world. Security gives us a sense of certainty, safety, well-being, serenity, and peace. This weekend’s Gospel suggests that perhaps Peter, Andrew, James, and John all had that sense. They had jobs (fishermen). They had each other as brothers for help, guidance, and support. They even had the things they needed to secure a livelihood (nets and boats). Even with the limited details of this Gospel, we might conclude that these four men were content with their lives. Then a stranger walks up to them and invites them to leave everything and to follow Him “at once” and “immediately.”And they do! Why in the world would they do that? Why leave the security of a good life they know for an unknown ministry to people, invited to follow an unknown, lone man? At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, the mystery of what He is about is revealed … something new is happening. Jesus has a command about Him, a persona, an immense Presence that brings forth response.
John’s ministry is finished. With his arrest, the tradition of Old Testament prophets dies. Enter Jesus, inaugurating a new reality. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave their lives as they knew them and become disciples who now proclaim the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” Humanity moves now from darkness into “a great light.” New teaching happens now. New healing comes now. New Life is given now.
To recognize this “Kingdom of Heaven” in our midst invites us to enter ever more fully into God’s reign by following Jesus. The Good News is that the Light begins shining here – among the Gentiles, in the darkness. The call of disciples is to be here – in the darkness. The way out of a dark and condemned land is to hear Jesus’ call and to follow Him. We cannot hear it often enough, for this is the way to living in the Light. This is how God’s Kingdom is established. Faithful disciples hear Jesus’ call, repent, and faithfully follow. In this way, gloom and darkness are overcome.
Every encounter with Jesus provokes a response. The Gospel for this weekend shows a response of discipleship that is quick and decisive. Our own call to discipleship comes at our Baptism, but unlike the disciples in the Gospel, our response isn’t usually so quick and decisive. We spend our whole life trying to see the great Light that is the Savior of the world. We spend our whole life passing from death (darkness and gloom) to living in the Light. We spend our whole life encountering Jesus, hearing His call, and working to be faithful in continuing His saving ministry.
We practice following Jesus in the simple, everyday things that come our way … the friend who needs a listening ear, the elderly parent who needs a comforting phone call or visit, the sick child who interrupts our sleep. Jesus invites us to turn from ourselves toward those in need, to turn from darkness to Light. Jesus invites us to continue His ministry of making “the Kingdom of Heaven … at hand.” The Kingdom of God is not a place but is the recognition of God’s just and rightful rule over all creation. This is the same ministry to which Jesus’ disciples were called … it is our own ministry. It is fulfilled every time we bring Jesus’ Presence to those we meet in the ordinary circumstances of our daily living.
May Saint Michael the Archangel defend, guide, protect, and intercede for us always!
~ Fr. Larry