Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Word

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 8:23-9:3-1
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mt 4:12-23

We're in the snowy days of winter. Football's almost over. Time to daydream about the those sunnny days of summer and quick trips fishing. In Matthew's text we're receiving today, Jesus himself uses the fishing metaphor. So don your hip waders, grab a fly-fishing pole, and waddle to center platform. Practice your casting ahead of time and prepare, pray and ponder the Word.

Matthew paints a beautiful image. Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, he sees two brothers — Simon Peter and Andrew. They’re working as fishermen, casting a net into the sea, and Jesus says to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

Notice that his initial invitation is not “listen to me,” “believe in me,” “bow down to me,” or “take a course in  theology” — it is “follow me.” Discipleship begins with walking … with faithful following.

Immediately they leave their nets and fall in behind him.

Moving on down the road, Jesus sees two other brothers, James and John, who are in a boat with their father, mending their nets. He calls to them in the same way, and they leave both their boat and their father, and follow Jesus on foot.

The passage ends with Jesus striding all throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in synagogues, curing diseases, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is a prophet — a walking spokesman for the one true God.

His disciples will need to keep moving if they want to keep up with Jesus.

To follow Jesus is to accept his invitation with passion and purpose, and to set a course in his direction. This doesn’t absolutely require the use of your legs, but it does demand the investment of your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. You cannot be lazy as a follower of Jesus — you’ve got to put energy into this endeavor, and make your discipleship dynamic.

So let’s be more like Simon Peter. Let’s respond to the call of Christ with energetic, faithful following.

But guess what? Personal experience is what catches people. It’s essential for us to talk about how and where God’s at work in our lives, whenever we speak about the Christian faith. Scholarship and propositions are not going to get the job done — we also have to be willing to give some personal testimony. Think of Simon Peter, stepping out of the boat and walking toward Jesus on the water. He became frightened by the strong wind and began to sink, and it looked like he was going to go under until Jesus reached out and saved him. What a story, What a testimony. No doubt Simon Peter told that story again and again throughout his life.

When fishing for people, one finds that personal experience is what catches them, hooks them. If they don’t see us walking with Jesus, then they are not going to be inspired to follow Jesus themselves.

The challenge for each of us is to hit the road — falling down, getting up, sinking, being saved, and then being willing to tell our stories to others. That’s what it means to follow Jesus, and that’s what will attract others to be active disciples along with us.