As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him (Mark 1:16-19).
A reflection from Father Tudgay for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.
We often like a “sure thing”. If you’re a planner, you tend not to embark on something without assessing risks or what’s needed to accomplish the task. Many of us would never embark on any adventure without first knowing what the calculated risks are and what would be needed to see things through to the end.
Yet, the opposite of that is what we see reflected in the Gospel. The call of the first disciples in Saint Mark’s Gospel occurs immediately after the arrest of Saint John the Baptist. While Simon, Andrew, James, and John probably wouldn’t have connected the dots as to the significance of John the Baptizer’s arrest. Nevertheless, they “leave their nets” and follow Christ, not really knowing what the outcome or the costs would be.
This example is where discipleship with Christ is completely different than just about every other choice that we make in life. Generally, choices involve planning and calculating. Not so in the life of discipleship. The call of the first disciples meant that they really left everything to follow Christ, without the luxury of relative predictability. When we choose to follow Christ, the luxury of predictability falls by the wayside. All we’re left with is nothing other than trusting in the unfathomable love of God.
“Leaving our nets” is the invitation that is offered to all of us throughout our lives. For some, however, the call to “leave our nets” and follow Christ is a radical one, a vocational one. Following Christ as a priest or consecrated religious, or both, as a religious order priest, allows the entirety of our lives to be devoted to the Gospel of Christ and service to the Catholic Church. Easy? Not always. Predictable? The only truly predictable part of my life is the time that masses are scheduled in both of our churches! Frightening? Occasionally…I continue to realize how ill-equipped I am for what I am often asked to embrace and do. Beautiful? Beyond imagining! Fulfilling? Although I experience frustration in life, like we all do, I know that the life I live as a priest has value and meaning, not so much because of what I’m able to bring to it, but because its all in the divine plan.
“Leaving our nets” isn’t easy, nor is it predictable. And sometimes we think about what life would’ve been like if we held onto the nets we wove for ourselves, rather than those that Christ weaves for us. And here is the adventure into the unknown, into the journey of faith. If we truly leave our nets and trust in Christ, the mission of the Catholic Church continues to move forward and the story of salvation history continues to unfold. Are you willing to let go and trust?