And passing along the the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zeb’edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed Him. [Mk 1:16-20]
And they were gone. For once the Savior of the world had come upon them and extended an invitation to join Him, they suddenly left their former lives- and followed Him. And in the sand, only their footprints could be found. In our lives, such a “call” would, I suppose, possess many characteristics: uncertainty, fear, and excitement- especially of the unknown. I am certain, too, that many questions would confront us. “What will happen to my family? Will I ever see them again? How will I provide for myself? Can I be certain in my trust of the One whom I have chosen to follow?”
In our day and age, how many times have we heard of individuals doing such a thing? Over the years, I can recall listening to stories of people who suddenly decided to do one thing or another. While one person might view a television “info-commercial” promoting some sort of product and immediately choose to call the ‘800’ number and order whatever snake oil that was being promoted, still another might experience a sort of ‘mid-life’ crisis and choose to move their life in a direction that appears so odd to observers that they wonder whether the individual has lost all sense. I imagine that the latter impression must have been the dominant one among those who knew the departed and newly appointed apostles of Jesus.
And yet, this is precisely what we are “called” to do as Christians: to leave our former selves and “put on Christ.” Over the past few weeks, I have been blessed to have had coordinated some talks at my parish on the Sacraments of Initiation. And further blessed to have drawn several talented speakers to reflect upon Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. In each of their talks, the speakers reflected upon the boldness and courage that the early Christians possessed which enabled them to “walk the walk” of Jesus Christ. Often subject to persecution, these men and women approached their newly embraced faith with vigor; having rigorously reflected upon the decision they were about to make. And on the day of baptism, they would enter the sacred and holy waters, be immersed by the deacon, and rise from those waters as fully changed people. After all, they had just “put on Christ.”
Forever changed, they would from that moment on, come to rely upon God’s Spirit- who would be their compass in a world set against Truth. Like the apostles and early Christians, we, too, have received- and continue to receive- unexpected calls. For given that the Spirit of God animates our lives, if we listen closely, we become aware that God sometimes asks us to move forward, sideways, and yes, sometimes even in reverse! And when He does so, perhaps the Spirit asks us to do something for- or to speak words of wisdom to– another person? But more often than not, it is likely that the Spirit invites us to slow down in this busy world of ours- even if only for a moment; in order that we might listen, reflect, and hear God speak to us in the deepest sanctuary of our hearts.
At the end of the Baptismal Rite, after the blessing of mothers and fathers, the following is prayed over all those gathered:
“By God’s gift, through water and the Holy Spirit, we are reborn to everlasting life. In his goodness, may he continue to pour out his blessing upon all present, who are his sons and daughters. May he make them always, wherever they may be, faithful members of his holy people. May he send his peace upon all who are gathered here, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Need I say more?