January 22, 2023
Is 8:23—9:3; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23
In today’s gospel we have the calling of the first disciples of Jesus, the two sets of brothers Simon and Andrew, and James and John. We are told that Simon and Andrew just have nets and James and John have a boat. James and John might be the rich kids and Simon and Andrew are poor. They are all fishermen and they are involved in the major industry there by the Sea of Galilee which is fishing. Supposedly they would catch Tilapia which is now a fish we can get in our own supermarkets. They lived and worked on a major trade route so they would sell salted fish as a commodity.
They all left their nets and there is a big question mark regarding how following Jesus affected their relationships with their wives, their families, their children. Like all people, they could not easily leave their work, still support their families and follow an itinerant preacher. There is a big hole in the description of their lives in the Scriptures, other than one of the first miracles of Jesus being the healing Peter’s mother-in-law from her fever.
The main point here is the event of Jesus and the proclamation of his kingdom which is now present and which is so important that one is obliged to walk away from everything that they are doing to join Jesus.
I can definitely see the difference in my lifestyle and sense of purpose since I entered the seminary and then fulltime parish ministry. My body of relationships continue to expand and sometimes deepen. This phenomena creates many new challenges and many rewards.
Something very similar happens when two people join in a sacramental marriage. The fusion of the two souls affects their lives in a transcendent way and all of their other relationships. Some former relationships will drift away and others will take on a new strength and meaning. The new relationships will keep each other focused on the True Light and eventually be that LIGHT that the world desperately needs.
Similarly, we can see what happens when one struggles with an attachment or an addiction to something. Their life becomes smaller and centered on what they are attached to whether that is substances or behaviors. They withdraw and are unable to handle what they once did and they need maybe a time away, a 28 day separation from whatever is harming them. Once they have completed their 28 day detachment then they can return to a more normal life, but with a new vigilance.
A new life will eventually emerge with a new set of relationships, a new lifestyle and a new vision of life. We see this clearly in the lives of the first disciples and in the lives of the saints. Their new lives are still full of changes, challenges and new opportunities, but they are able to stay healthy with a growing community of friends who are focused primarily on following Christ.
This COMMUNITY of disciples will bring a whole new dimension to the lives of its members. It won’t be just a group of people who help each other cope with trying to be a good person. It will be a community with a whole new type of energy and purpose. A new way of being in the world.
Jesus continues to call us throughout our lives. If we are not attaching ourselves to helpful, spiritual things, and detaching ourselves from harmful destructive things, then we will likely not change much over the long term. We will not create communities of LIGHT. Our grandchildren pay the price or reap the rewards of our community building efforts. The apostles chose to follow Jesus and to see where it leads. We also must make the next step in answering the call at this particular point in our lives.
This week we might consider these reflection questions:
As People of the LIGHT, what is the nature of the darkness we are called to dispel? In our personal lives? In our family? Parish? Neighborhood? State and nation? Try to be specific.
Consider the ever-accelerating levels of gun violence that continues locally and nationally. What is the real underlying problem?
We have had nearly 2000 abortions in Utah since the post Row vs. Wade trigger law took effect in Utah last June. What is the real underlying cause of unwanted and minimally cared for children?
How can we share with younger people stories of the different transitional conversions we have had over the years?
What bad habit might I leave behind starting this month?