Sunday, January 22, 2017

Leaving Nets

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. Matthew 4:12-23

The regular images of my young years include drying fishing nets, boats coming in to the harbor surrounded by squawking gulls, bridges being raised to make way for the catch, and all the daily rhythms of life by the sea. Fishing is hard, grueling work, even today. It is a life of long hours, massive catches and even more massive disappointments. It is a life of separation from shore and family that is neither pretty or ennobled. It is an absolutely necessary occupation, supplying sustenance for whole villages and regions, but it is never aspired to by most young children. I knew many commercial fisherman and admired even more, but knew I could not withstand the rigors of their lives.

It is from these folk, rough handed, rough tongued and socially isolated that Jesus called his disciples. Jesus called them to another grueling task, another impossible movement, that of following Jesus and spreading the Gospel. As hard as they had worked in their lives, what was ahead was even harder. They were to witness amazing miracles and suffer great losses. Their challenges would be even greater than anything they had experienced. And yet they knew immediately they wanted to follow, they wanted to join, they wanted to be counted as the reign of God drew near. We are invited to stand up and join as well. The reign of God's love, the time of love conquering hate, the moment of new awakening, a new movement is upon us. 

I ask God to give me the strength to drop my busy work and follow. May we all rise up to love's call. May we spread hope where there has only been fear, share capacity where there have only been limits, to follow the Beloved and march in the light of God, today.

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