” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the waters, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me’, Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” [Mark 1: 16-18].
This Scripture is probably one of the best known and beloved in the Bible. Jesus’ dramatic call, “Come, follow me”, is one of the quintessential elements of Christianity.
Jesus’ call is the call to be healed, a call to follow the Way, that leads to love, to peace, to a gentle community.
We can probably all speak about our dysfunctional, upside down world, about the violence against us, the teachings we have received against God, against charity to others, against acceptance of others. We’ve been called ugly every day, and called a failure.
We have been told, ‘Think of yourself first. We do not give to charity.’ And we have been taught to be suspicious of others.
So we can end up alone and scared. Even as children, a lot of us knew that our family and friends did not seem to be saying the right things. All that they said contradicted the love and the security that we craved. And so, we we decide to retreat.
We take a vow to stop speaking out. We give up.
So where is Jesus’ call in our lives now?
I would say to you that it is, first, simply hearing others speaking our name!
Jesus is in others greeting us with expressions of total delight!
You see, in our Christian childhood, it was much better, much safer to be invisible. But when someone actually sees us today, and does not look right through us, it means that we are not invisible.
We DO exist and we do matter!
There is a thrill in our heart when someone calls us by name; a feeling of joy that we think will never go away. It is the thrill that comes from the love we have for one another, which is also the love that comes from Jesus!
Sometimes, we still feel worthless and useless. If we imagine that we hear the call of God upon us, we are tempted to dismiss it, because we think, WHY would God call me?!
I am No one, I am a Nobody.
This circumstance reminds us of the story of Samuel.
It did not occur to him that this voice calling out to him could be God.
If we are so unassuming that we think we have no value, will we miss the call of God and Jesus in our lives?
Quoted from the original writer…………………….
“I went through this when I received the call to convert. There was an insistent, persistent preoccupation inside, with drawing nearer to God.
I kept “hearing” in my head, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” and, “Only say the Word and I shall be healed.”
It was an odd time for this call to come. I could think of so many other times when this call would have been so much more convenient. But it was there, and it was not going away.
I went to seek advice from a wise mentor. I asked, “Why would God call me? Why would I be called to come closer to Jesus by receiving the Eucharist?
I am Nobody. I am only a woman, only a wife and mother. I am nothing special”.
I thought that, to be called, I had to somehow measure up.
The mentor replied, ‘Well, the first disciples were only fishermen! — humble, uneducated, unknown at that time.”
This is why, as we are called by Jesus, we need each other. We need to be in community.
We can see Jesus best by His reflection in ourselves and in each other.
If we cannot speak to one another about the call of Jesus in our lives, we might not recognize Him at all! It is in our prayers for each other, in our love for each other, that we truly recognize Jesus.
For some it can be painful and difficult for us to reach out. But if we want to expand the reach of Jesus in our lives, we must challenge ourselves to embrace others, from all walks of life. We are called to treat everyone we meet as a son or daughter of God!
We are all called to follow Jesus, yes. But we are also called to be “fishers of men”, like Jesus. And so, we need to become Collectors of People. We are instructed to befriend people from all walks of life, be they white, black, yellow, tall, short, fat, thin, Christian, atheist , Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. Yes even Muslim.
Not once did Jesus ever say “ Hate your enemies “
Treat everyone as family.
There is some risk, and often a great deal of challenge in responding to the call of Jesus. In Mark 1: 19-20, James and his brother John, upon hearing Jesus’ call, leave their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and follow Jesus.
To follow Jesus, we must leave our comfortable life behind and “get out of the boat”.
We may also have to leave our “fathers”– that is, to leave our past behind, in order to become a follower of Jesus.
Many of us have families and friends with a very tortured view of the world, leaving them confused and bitter, trying to drag us into their despair.
Sometimes, we have to choose between our family’s ways and Jesus’ Way. That can be very painful. We sometimes have to literally leave our father– and mother– behind, and turn to a new Way.
But we do not have to forge our way alone. We have Jesus to follow and emulate.
May we see Jesus’ gentle and loving ways in everyone we meet as we ride across this great land.