When David and I were buying our first car, back in the Catskills, we got to this one car dealership, and we got out of our old clunker and we started looking and we were looking for five minutes, and we were looking for ten minutes, and it was raining but nobody came out, said hello, or did anything that a good salesperson would do. Not to brag or anything, but I think I’d do a far better job if I worked in that place – and yes, they did see us.
Now of course, we’re not trying to sell the Gospel or hook the people with a bunch of nonsense, so this may not be a perfect example, but sometimes that is exactly what we do – like those salesmen in that dealership, we pretend that “those people ain’t there,” or “they can help themselves.” But you know what? When Jesus entrusts us the privilege to be “fishers of people,” it means that he is taking risk on us. He’s not just giving us something to do to keep us busy and out of trouble; Jesus has made us his partners.
Spoiler alert: Christ’s fishing business is hard work; it’s time-consuming and it has absolutely nothing to do with putting your feet up and taking a little power nap while the fish gets hooked. Let’s forget the line fishing, actually.
Picture the net fishing. Picture the casting of the net into the lake or the sea. It takes more than one person. It takes three, or four, or even more people. It’s a team work, it’s not all about me and my spotlight. – Also picture long hours and strain; picture labor intensive; picture blood, sweat and tears, often with only a little result. Still, Peter and his co-workers are willing to leave their nets, their comfort zone, that what they know, and they follow Jesus. Why would they do that?
When Jesus calls, and when we follow, we risk doing something we don’t know how to do; sometimes his call takes us into dark and unknown places. Other times his call is the call to change – and change is difficult, we fight it tooth and nail because we have this tendency to cling to that what is familiar and that what feels safe and a lot of times, when we feel challenged by Jesus, we pretty much throw a tantrum. And then we tend to hang on to those things that ensure results – the quicker, the better. Quick fix, instant gratification. And when the results don’t present themselves immediately, well, many of us give up.
But even in those moments when we want to throw in the towel and we give up, even then we’re not alone. Jesus doesn’t leave us alone in our helplessness and frustration. There’s something happening here, and Peter and James and John, they recognized it; they knew it was worth leaving their past behind. And they were not perfect in their ministry; they were stubborn and competitive, they argued and fought over the attention and misunderstood the words of Jesus over and over again. They were quite an ordinary bunch of people.
But with ordinary people, people like us, Jesus does some extraordinary things. The gospel writers call it the kingdom of God and this kingdom looks like a myriad of opportunities that we are presented with on a day-to-day basis, some good opportunities and some not-so-good ones. Some when it’s easy to love mercy and do justice and walk humbly with God, and some when all we want to do is hide away and call it quits.
And while Jesus does model kindness and compassion for us, it’s something that we need learn for ourselves, in very concrete situations and a very real world. And this world is not always an easy place to be – sometimes it feels just as unstable as a family of four in a little aluminum rowboat. And it’s in times like these, that we are each called to reach out our hands with empathy and understanding, and work for the world’s health, and its beauty and renewal, its freedom, its change and transformation; but change and transformation will never happen in our comfort zone. But dare we to step out, things will be happening.
Happy Sunday, beloveds,