The Call of the First Disciples
I can still remember when I was applying as a seminarian because I wanted to become a priest. I underwent a process and passed through several steps like: taking entrance exam, workshops, taking battery of tests, preliminary interviews, letter of application, recommendation from parish priest and others. When I was accepted, I stayed in the seminary for several years of intensive seminary formation which includes: taking up four-year philosophical studies, four-year theological studies, one year spiritual and pastoral formation, exposures where I was exposed to the harsh realities of life like immersing myself to the life situation of people especially in depressed areas and many more. This was to test if I am physically, mentally, psychologically and morally capable. After I successfully passed these processes I ask my bishop to ordain me.
Of course the disciples of Jesus do not undergo such kind of processes when they are called by Him. In today’s gospel, Andrew and Simon are simply casting their nets in the lake while James and John are putting their nets in order when Jesus calls them, ‘Come, follow me, I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they leave everything in the boat and follow Jesus. That instant, willing and ready! They have their seminary formation with Jesus for only three years or less.
This gospel passage about the calling of the first disciples gives us three things to reflect upon our own vocation as Christians: First, Jesus calls us in the normal activities of our day. Jesus ‘saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.’ They are working and fulfilling their daily routine and Christ enters their lives surprisingly and calls them to be His apostles. They answer ‘yes’ because they are open to Him and trust Him. We hear Christ’s call more clearly and seek to please Him in our daily activities by being prayerful.
Second, Jesus’ call is urgent. He says: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus’ words transmit a sense of necessity and a demand to follow Him. Simon and Andrew sense the importance of the moment and so there is no time for them to rationalize the situation or rethink their options. Christ needs His disciples now.
We often hear Christ calls us urgently. His call seems to be always demanding and yet loving. He wants us to personally experience Him and the good news which is His love. Fr. Marcial Maciel (LC June 18, 1985) said: “Don’t be deceived, my dear young people. Following Christ is hard, difficult and costly. But there is no other way to be happy in this life.” In other words, don’t postpone, don’t delay.
Third, following Jesus often means changing some aspect of our lives. He calls us to repent from our old habits, ways of thinking and ways of living in order to fully believe in and live according to His Word. If we are going to be truly alive, in accord with the demands of God’s word, we must be in a constant mode of conversion which is, leaving the old self in the past and living according to the new self in Christ at present.
There are many souls waiting for the salvation of Christ. He only needs fishers who will go out and gather them in. This mission He places in our hands will result in the biggest catch. Let us love our mission.