January 21, 2024 at St. Peter and St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Churches in Naples, FL
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 + Psalm 25 + 1 Corinthians + Mark 1: 14-20
I am not sure where it comes from, perhaps it was our parents or our educational system, but most of us to some degree are what our culture calls, “Control Freaks.” I know some people whose lives are totally directed by their plans, their calendars, and the clock. While they seem to be all neat and orderly, my opinion is that they are dull and not a lot of fun to be around. If anything happens unexpectedly that throws their plans off, they get angry and can’t figure out what to do next. This is not to suggest that a little scheduling and planning is useless, but letting our plans completely take over our lives with a fixation over doing what we think needs to be done might very well keep us from being attentive to God’s work, God’s plan, and God’s invitation to share in that plan.
Imagine what it might have been like if those four, Peter, Andrew, James and John, had been so busy and so focused on their fishing that they just let Jesus walk on by. We would never know their names, nor the church they built that covers the earth. I think Mark tells us about this so that we can see what it takes to be a follower, a disciple, of Jesus Christ. We have to be able to risk something unknown, make a change, even start up a new relationship. Simply put, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking or believing that we’re in control of everything and that our plans are the right plans. The big risk is that while we work at whatever we do all day, we lose sight of the one purpose for which we were made.
When I think about those apostles Jesus called to himself, it seems to me that they were not exactly the best this world had to offer. It would seem that the best and the perfect are not what Jesus looks for. Most of the time, the best and the perfect have spent their lives and all their talents making themselves look good and be successful. That doesn’t leave God much to work with. As it turns out, those four and their companions were not so perfectly suited for what was to come, but they went anyway. They probably signed up thinking they would be headed for glory, power, respect, and admiration. Anything would be better than fishing all night and mending the nets all day. What they got was a huge disappointment. Instead of going for the glory of a palace, they got the cross. After that, they re-grouped in some upper room, and finally, with the help of the Holy Spirit figured out something new discovering why they were made in the first place. It was not to mend nets and catch fish.
We are so like those fishermen and those other ordinary people who join them along the way. We misunderstand things, we betray, and sometimes desert this church and the relationship we have here in Christ. But here we are week after week re-grouping in this room counting on the Holy Spirit to keep us open to the new life to which we have been called.
God has called us to be a little more than we may have thought we were before we really listened to God’s Word. God called those men to do and be a little more than just catch a few fish to feed their families. God has not stopped calling. If you think you have everything under control and want to keep it that way, you may very will miss out on real life telling yourself that you have “the good” life which will end someday. We cannot, for all our planning foresee the future, no matter how furiously we squint. We never know all that we are getting into. Although that may appear to be a regretful limitation, it often proves to be the way to find a hope larger than our limited and puny imaginations. It all just takes an ability and a willingness to think or try something new.