The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (4:18-23)
In every person’s life there are moments where making a certain choice or decision will forever change the course of their life. This is true both in a positive as well as a negative sense. People sometimes choose to do something which is wrong or sinful and it will cause untold damage and destruction not only in their life but in the lives of their families. I am thinking for instance of the husband or wife who chooses to be unfaithful. Often they do so under the illusion that they won’t get caught or that they deserve better or deserve more, or that they will “find happiness”. But that one choice can obliterate life as they know it. That is why we call some sin, sin unto death. Sin can only take away and destroy, it has absolutely no power to give or to create. It is destructive.
Likewise, it is possible that a certain choice or decision that we make can positively change the course of our life forever. We exactly that in today’s gospel. As the Lord Jesus is walking by the sea of Galilee, He comes up to two brothers, fishermen, and He says “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” These men, Simon Peter and Andrew, were going about their daily business. They were in the middle of their work. They weren’t fishing for fun or for sport, they were fishing for their livelihood. The Lord’s call came to them and it also comes to us, but it never ever comes when it is convenient. What could be less convenient than calling these men to follow Him in the middle of their workday? Yet that is exactly how the Lord Jesus does it. We should expect that when the Lord speaks to us, He will do so when it is not convenient in our lives.
Little did those brave disciples know how that moment would not only change their lives but begin a path that would change the course of history as we know it. He told them to follow and they took it not as a request or as an invitation, but rather as a commandment. We are told that they immediately left their nets and followed Him.
The Lord Jesus is constantly telling people to follow Him. He whispers it in their hearts. He speaks it through the words of the gospel. He is the great fisher of men who seeks to ensnare our hearts and minds so that they would not be held captive by the world and by the traps and snares that have been set by the evil one.
Some people hear this call and they delay answering the call. They think that an ideal time or circumstance will allow them to take the first step. Some hear this call and never even think of the possibility of following the call. They can’t imagine such a disruption in their lives. They have plans and they are focused on those plans. They also can’t imagine what blessings the Lord has in store for those who obey the call. Yet others reject the call completely because they don’t want their lives to be branded and marked as belonging to Jesus Christ. The don’t want to be labelled.
But some hear this call and respond to it immediately. I once spoke to a young man who was driving along and heard this verse and when he heard it, it was like it had been sent directly to him. He immediately changed all of his plans and dedicated his life to serving the Lord and bringing others to Him. At that point, all of the calculations and the obstacles and the circumstances of his life vanished. They became minor and insignificant details because he had heard the calling and he immediately decided that he must do it. He told me that the choice was easy because he didn’t want to spend his time and energy working on things that would not last, but what the Lord was offering him was a chance to work on something of eternal value.
One of the reasons that I like to hammer the idea of reading the gospel every day is that the gospel can have the force of an atomic bomb in your life. By the Word of God, the sun and the moon and the earth came into existence. And by the Word of God, you can also be born again, recreated and refashioned. We can go from taking up space to existing as children of God who serve and glorify Him.
It is for us to discern the ways that the Lord is calling us to follow Him. Each of you is being called to serve in different capacities within the life of the Church but each of you is being called to serve. Not everyone is called to be a fisher of men. Not everyone is called to be a deacon or priest. Not everyone is called to be a chanter or reader. Not everyone is called to bake the holy bread. But every one of you has been called to follow Christ more fully. If we are not sure of our calling, we should fast and pray about it and beseech the Lord saying “Lord, how can I follow you more? Lord, how can I unite my life with the life that you desire for me? How can I serve you more faithfully?”
None of us is worthy of the calling. Peter and Andrew were not worthy of the calling. It was obedience to the calling from God that made them worthy to know Him intimately. Imagine the things that they saw and experienced for those precious three years that they followed the Lord. Imagine what they would have missed if they had stayed with their nets and kept on with their own work. They would have missed the single most important event in the history of the world! They would have missed the chance to see, and speak with and experience the incarnate God in the flesh. What might we be missing by ignoring the Lord’s call to follow Him? Better yet, what might we gain by following His calling? Jesus Christ desires that each of us follows Him. We follow primarily through our obedience to His teachings and even in this simple act there is great blessings and treasures. God doesn’t look to disrupt our lives in a negative sense. He offers us life. Have faith and be obedient to everything that Jesus Christ is trying to teach you and through this you will grow in love and hope and your growth will be a light for others.
Peter and Andrew were given no guarantees about the future. They left their work and they did not even know how or where their next meal would come. They also did not know the true identity of the Lord. They had great hope and great faith. But we know the true identity of this man who walked by the sea of Galilee. We know the power of this Messiah. May we follow Him boldly and allow Him to transform our lives and to transform our very world by His power! Glory to God forever AMEN.