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After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Jesus said: Follow me and I will make you fish for people.
These words opened the door on to a whole new world for four ordinary, hard-working fishermen plying their trade on the Sea of Galilee. The daily lives of Simon and Andrew, James and John would have been strenuous and practical. No matter how strong their faith, their daily talk would have revolved around the seaworthiness of their boats and the size of their daily catch, and not on where God might lead them in the future. If such matter were discussed it would probably have centred on the wonders of God’s creation and the way their lives were interwoven with those wonders. Then, one day, the Son of God stood before them and said: Follow me and I will make you fish for people.
The challenge of today’s reading is both obvious and complex. It is obvious in the sense that we are being invited to reflect upon our response to God’s call into a new life of discipleship and apostleship. It is complex because, should we hear God’s call above the clamour of our daily lives, our response will almost certainly be tempered by our prioritisation of worldly considerations.
As we think about the obvious and the complex, we should pause and consider our reaction to a word that occurs twice in today’s reading: Immediately. We have no detailed knowledge of the commitments Simon and Andrew, James and John were leaving behind as they responded to Jesus’ call, but we do know that their response was immediate. Those four ordinary men heard the call to follow Christ, and responded without hesitation. How does that leave us feeling as we consistently dither and delay, prevaricate and ignore Jesus’ words to us: Follow me?
The life of discipleship and apostleship is not for the ‘super holy’. It is a calling for all of us. It does not matter how ‘ordinary’, or even ‘inadequate’, we might feel … Jesus is still saying: Follow me.
The nature of Jesus’ call will be different for each and every one of us, but that call is real and ever-present. Let us pray that we might take that leap of faith and follow the path Christ has laid for us. Let us pray that we might tread that path joyfully. Let us pray that our journey of faith might lead others to respond to Christ’s call: Immediately.