The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 4:18-23
It is difficult to imagine changing careers in the middle of life. A man or woman has gone through a specific amount of training, and education, both formal and informal. They have honed their skills and perhaps they have even perfected their craft. Yet for various reasons we find that many people start over with their careers. Sometimes they do so because they find that they can make more money doing something else. Sometimes they do so because the hours are better. Sometimes the change happens because they decide that they are not fulfilled in their work. When a man only works to make money, it is often the case that he lacks a real sense of purpose.
Perhaps the Lord Jesus sensed this lack of purpose in the first 4 disciples that He called that day as He walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We don’t know for sure but what we do know is that when the Lord told the fishermen to follow Him, they did so immediately.
They could have found various very good reasons to put off the Lord. They could’ve ignored Him completely. They could have started making excuses about being busy or tired or fearful, but it is important to see what they did instead; They obeyed immediately.
Every day the Lord tries to speak to our hearts. He calls us like He called the fishermen. He looks at each of us and says “follow me.” We can follow Our Lord to different degrees. For some, following is simply living by the teachings of Christ. For others it means becoming like disciples and bringing others to Christ. Still for others, following means walking with Jesus all the way, wherever it might lead…even to the cross and to death. That is the reason why martyrs are so special in the eyes of God and the Church. We celebrate their memories because they prove that nothing is more important than the love of God, not even their lives.
We get so caught up in our own lives that it is possible that we miss the meaning and purpose of life and work. The fishermen worked hard and provided food for their own tables and the tables of others. Yet they left it all behind when they heard the word of the Lord. This is a radical life of submission. We wonder why we are not performing the miracles that the disciples performed. We wonder why we struggle in our faith while the disciples shined with virtue and holiness. Submission.
They submitted to the command of the Lord to follow. They continued to submit themselves and their lives to Jesus Christ over and over again. They had know idea where He would lead them. But they continued to follow moment to moment, day to day, year to year. And when they could submit nothing more of themselves to the One that they loved, they submitted their very lives for Him.
How are we submitting to Jesus Christ? How did we submit to Christ yesterday? How will we submit to Jesus Christ tomorrow? Are we submitting our attitude to the Lord? Are we submitting our finances to God and trusting Him with them? Are we submitting our time and our children to Christ and His Church? Do we submit our talents and strengths to the Lord or do we use them only for what we want?
The idea of obedience or submission is very controversial to modern people. Why? Because we want to be our own masters. We do not want to submit to anyone or anything. The writers of the New Testament assume that we understand our whole life as a life of submission. This is what it means to be a Christian and a slave of God. We don’t think about what we will lose if we submit to God. That is the thinking of the world. We think about the blessings we will miss if we ignore the things that Jesus Christ is asking us to do in our lives. But why would I want to do that? God has a plan for my life and apart from His plan, my life loses meaning and purpose. It’s like trying to use a lawnmower as a skateboard. It has four wheels and you can stand on it but you’ve missed it’s true purpose. We are the same if we stay in the boat and don’t follow Him.
Submission is powerful in our personal lives to one another and much more powerful in the spiritual life. When Christ is whispering to us, we have to be ready to listen. We have to be ready to make a leap of faith like these disciples and leave the comfort of the boat for the blessings that the Lord offers. While they were in the boat they caught fish. When they left the boat, they caught the whole world. Who knows what God will do with us and through us? We can never know unless we follow Him. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.