“CAN I DO THAT?” (Mt 4:18-22): 30 November 2007 (Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, Friday)
One word leaps out of today’s gospel story: “Immediately.” The story is about the call of the so-called “first disciples”–two sets of brothers, four fishermen: Simon Peter and Andrew, John and James. Matthew tells the story simply: Jesus walks by the sea–purposelessly, it seems–and chances upon the unsuspecting men. Quite out of the blue–again it seems–he invites them, and “at once” Simon and Andrew leave their boats. And not much later, James and John leave their nets–“immediately.”
There is nothing “immediate” about our own attempts at following Jesus. It’s simply too tough and complicated to follow him in a world that’s increasingly hostile or inhospitable to one who wants to be a disciple. So can we be blamed if we compromise, postpone, and sometimes even give up trying? And if we’re still trying, we soon realize–to our dismay–that the most we can do is stumble after the Lord, never quite making the grade. So when I think of the disciples’ immediate response to Jesus, a question I can’t help but ask myself is: “Can I do that?”
According to author Barbara Brown Taylor, the word “immediate” in the gospel almost always signals a miracle story. And she’s right: the way the first disciples abandoned their former lives to follow our Lord required nothing short of a miracle, a miracle that happens out of nowhere and in the “midst of things,” as they were quietly going about their lives.
The Lord knows we too need nothing short of a miracle in our lives to follow him. Maybe if we pray for it, that miracle will happen today: Out of nowhere, in the midst of things, we might feel that burning in our hearts and just for once–at once and immediately–we might find the needed strength and courage to leave our past life and begin again stumbling after his shadow.
Let’s you and I pray for that miracle today.