In our Gospel reading, we hear Mark’s account of the call of the first disciples of Jesus. When Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, “they left their nets and followed him.” When He calls James and John, “they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” As I reflect on my own call, I have come to an understanding of what it means when one discerns his or her own vocation.
For me, discerning and living out God’s will brings a peace of mind and heart. One feels comfortable in the vocation she or he is called to. On the other hand, answering one’s call should probably lead to some discomfort, because doing God’s will leads us to go beyond where we are. Somewhere along the line God calls us out of being comfortable or complacent.
When I look at what Simon and Andrew, James and John leave behind when they follow Jesus, the things and people they leave behind represent things we need to leave behind when we strive to be disciples of Christ. The nets that Simon and Andrew leave behind represent for me the traps we often fall into that hinder our being true to the persons God calls us to be. Whether it is resentment or prejudice or shame or fear, whatever it is keeps us from accepting God’s love in our hearts, and prevents that love from shining through us to others. Alcoholics Anonymous would call it “the bondage of self.” Sometimes we don’t want to let go of these “nets,” as hurtful as they may be to us, because we’re afraid of what pain there might be in letting them go. But if we can trust in Jesus, we can let them go, and Jesus will see us through whatever challenges and pains of conversion there might be.
Similarly, when James and John leave their father Zebedee behind, that represents to me a willingness to leave behind the old ways of thinking and relating that get in the way of Christian love. Judgment, bias, disregard for the environment, unwillingness to listen to others, can all fall into this category. But if I can see Jesus even in “the least of these,” and I am willing to learn from them, I am more able to take on new ways of thinking and acting that more fully show the love of Christ to the world.
And what would the world look like if we thought in terms of living out our vocations, and were willing to let go of what hinders us in following Jesus? In our second reading from 1 Corinthians, St. Paul tells the Christians there to not act as they usually do, because “the time is running out.” He also says, “The world in its present form is passing away.” In many ways, as we see the advances of technology and such, we see the truth in Paul’s words. But if we look at the suffering and violence, his words can ring hollow. But even if we as individuals would let the love of God in Jesus Christ change us to some degree, that would leave the world a different place, even if it is a very slight amount. And what would happen if more and more people of good will joined together in the effort?
I know this can sound too simplistic or optimistic, but should we trust our cynicism, or should we trust in Jesus? Simon and Andrew, James and John were not perfect, as we will see the further we get into Mark’s Gospel, but they trusted enough in Jesus to let the old life behind. May we trust n Jesus enough to let go of what gets in the way and follow Him.
Fr. Phil, CP