3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

If you were with us last Sunday, you remember in our first reading we heard the famous account of the calling of Samuel. Samuel the little boy who is working in the temple is asleep and 3 times he hears God call Him. Each to those times he gets up and goes to priest Eli ready to serve and finally Eli figures it out that it is God who calling him. Last Sunday, you and I were invited to find a way to open our hearts and ears to listen for God’s call to us and this Sunday, the gospel takes us the next step. This Sunday we are invited not just to hear God but to leave everything to follow Him wherever He leads us.

I don’t know about you, but I find today’s Gospel almost scandalous. Here are these four established fishermen working to provide for their family and the second they hear Jesus call them to follow Him, they leave everything; their livelihood and even their family to follow Him. Look at Simon and Andrew, the first two that Jesus calls. There they are fishing, doing what they are supposed to do and the second they hear Jesus call them they leave their boats behind and follow Him. I don’t know about you, but if I owned a business that I was leaving aside, I would at least liquidate what I had. I would sell my boats and my nets and make sure the money provided for my family. They don’t even worry about that. God has called them and they leave everything behind trusting that following Jesus will lead to everything working out. A few moments later we are told that Jesus finds James and John and when He calls them they leave everything. The gospels tell us they are pretty well off. They aren’t just fishermen, they have hired help, they have a business and they leave their business behind without any questions about what is going to happen to it and they follow Jesus. But they don’t just leave the hired men behind they also leave their father behind. They leave their family, without asking any questions trusting that following after Jesus will lead them to where they need to be. Friends the lesson is simple, Jesus’ call demands a decisive response. When Jesus calls, we go and we go now.

My friends, you and I also get this call from God. Sure, we get it in a big way in our vocation in life whether that is in priesthood, religious life, or marriage, but God doesn’t just call once, no God is repeatedly calling us with that simple invitation to “follow me.” You see, sometimes we make things way too complicated. Here is the big rule book that I have to follow. Here is the complicated path of all of the commandments and Church teachings. Jesus’ invitation to us is beautifully simple. It is two words “follow me.” It is on these two words, follow me, that our lives will be judged at the end of time and on these same two words that our own happiness in this world is contingent. The call of Jesus to follow Him, is the call of love, for love requires us to know Him and to live for Him.

In order for any of this to make sense, we need the humility to step back and acknowledge that God has called each and every one of us for a specific purpose. God, the creator of this world, has created a puzzle and He has made each and every one of us a piece in that puzzle. It is only when each of us to follow this invitation of Jesus to “follow me” that this big picture of God’s plan for the world comes into fulfillment.

Today’s call from our Lord is simple, we are called to live our lives with and for Jesus. The good news is that Jesus doesn’t just make us try to figure this out. No, being a Christian isn’t about just looking at the bible and figuring it out. Being a Catholic isn’t about just showing up to church, following the rules, and hope you figure it all out. No, It is very simple, two words, “follow me.” Jesus shows us how to figure it out. Jesus shows us how to live our Catholic faith. But, if we want to know Jesus and want to walk in His footsteps, we must know His life and have a relationship with Him. It requires that we follow the path to holiness He lays out for us in Sacred Scripture and the divinely protected teachings of the Catholic Church. If we want to follow Him we need the strength He gives us in the sacraments.

Our call to conversion, our call to follow Him, is the call to live as Jesus lived. All of us are called to that simple invitation to “follow me.” Jesus invites us to walk through the ordinariness of human life and so doing we actually lead others to Him. I don’t know about you, but I don’t watch the news anymore. Without even watching it I bet I can tell you what was on the news this morning. Someone was killed in the city of St. Louis, there is some political fighting going on in our country, we are having problems with the coronavirus and there is probably a terrorist attack that happened somewhere in the world. It is easy to give into despair. It is easy to begin to wonder where God is in the midst of this messed up world. But have you stopped to realize that if each of us just followed that invitation to follow Him, that puzzle would come together, the world would be as it should be.

Today’s Gospel is the very beginning of Jesus ministry. Jesus starts out by calling four fishermen. There is no doubt that Jesus and those first followers who grew to twelve and now to two billion, have radically changed the world. Four people heard Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, they left everything and trusted that He would show them where they needed to go and the world has never been the same. Imagine what our world would be like if each and every Catholic heard the call of Christ to follow Him and did so without reservation.

Friends, the “Catholic Church is a sleeping giant. We literally have the power to change the world.”[1] Imagine what the world would look like if every Catholic woke up and strived just a little harder day in and day out to follow Christ.

[1] Matthew Kelly, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012. pg14

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