God has come in search of you. He wants all things good for you. He invites you with the words, “Come, follow me.” Will you again say yes to the Lord?
I love bible stories. I am particularly captivated by the accounts of Jesus calling the Twelve to discipleship. “Come and follow me.”
Today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel, just like the similar passages in John’s Gospel, captures my imagination! We’ve just come through the Advent and Christmas seasons and have heard much about and from John the Baptist. He had been sent ahead of the Lord to prepare his way. He had zealously preached the good news.
For hundreds of years since their captivity and return from exile, the people of Israel and Judah were living under a dark, spiritual cloud. They had been allowed to return to their land, but it was no longer theirs. They lived under the oppressive rule of a foreign power and were awaiting the Christ who according to the prophets would deliver them.
So, it was no wonder that they asked John the Baptist if he was the Christ. He confessed he was not and then pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God. And now, John the Baptist was arrested by Herod.
That’s the setting in which Jesus came to Galilee. What happened next probably astonished those who saw it. It astonishes me!
First, Jesus preached. He proclaimed that now is the time of fulfillment that the prophecies announced.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Could this be true? Could this be the moment they were waiting for? Was this the Christ?
Jesus saw Simon and Andrew at work fishing. We know this was not their first encounter with Jesus, but this was a pivotal moment of transformation.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
Jesus invited them to discipleship… to follow him as his disciples. And they did! They put down their nets and followed the Lord, their lives forever changed. Seriously, nothing would ever be the same!
And then Jesus came upon James and John, the sons of Zebedee, while they were mending their fishing nets. He invited them to discipleship too. Mark records that they left their father and employees, got out of their boat, left their business behind, and followed Jesus… just like that!
We are all called to discipleship, but each of us has a particular role to fill in the Kingdom of God.
Some are called to the diocesan priesthood, like Msgr. Peter, Fr. Tamiru, and Fr. Evan. Others are called to the religious life as, monks, brothers, nuns, or sisters.
Most of us are not called to leave our work, families, and friends behind.
Most are called to live out their discipleship as married couples.
Some, like me, are called to be ordained deacons and husbands.
Yet, even within these vocations, God calls us to particular tasks and roles. Do you realize that every one of us were baptized to be priests, prophets, and kings?
- We fulfill our priestly office when we sacrifice for the purpose of inviting and leading others to God.
- We fulfill our prophetic office when we share our testimony and give witness to the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of God.
- We fulfill our kingly office when, from our love of God, we love and serve others.
Each day, the Lord might have a different task for you to perform.
Here’s a question for each of us.
Am I so busy with the matters of this world that I neglect to follow Jesus in the way he asks? Am I open to the promptings of the Holy Spirt in my life. Do I as Jesus every morning to be with me throughout the day, opening my eyes and heart to what he asks?
To be a disciple means that I am committed to placing God first in my life. Too often we disconnect our faith from the life we live. To be a disciple is to integrate our faith into all the various areas in our life. Faith cannot be locked within the four walls of this church.
A disciple follows his or her master. As disciples of Jesus, we walk in his footsteps. Our discipleship must never be accidental or an after thought.
St. Paul, in our second reading today, exhorts us to remember this truth. Yes, we live in this world and have responsibilities in it. We must not neglect these responsibilities, but neither should we allow them to take priority over God.
We are undertaking an effort in our parish to explore how we can equip and encourage one another to become intentional disciples. You will be hearing more about Acts XXIX (right, Acts has only 28 chapters, that’s the point—Chapter 29 is what we do), Father John Ricardo, and the Rescue Project in the coming days and weeks. This is an exciting time at our parish and the Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way, I know you will agree there is no denying this, so GET READY!
The beautiful thing about all of this is that scripture show us over and over that God the Father is constantly reaching out to us, loving us, and inviting us into his blessedness. Like with Jonah and the Ninevites, like with St. John the Baptist, and of course with Jesus—the Son of God become Man.
God has come in search of you. He wants all things good for you. He invites you with the words, “Come, follow me.”
Will you again say yes to the Lord?
Into the deep…
Image credit: “The Calling of Andrew and Peter” (detail) | Duccio di Buoninsegna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A popular and engaging speaker, Deacon Bickerstaff is available to speak at your parish or event. Be sure to check out his Speaker Page to learn more. Into the Deep is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.
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