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The Disciple’s Response

Here is the text of my homily for today (January 23, 2011 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time).

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
St. Michael’s 5:00 p.m, 7:00 a.m. & 9:30 a.m

Isaiah 8:23-9:1

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Matthew 4:12-23

January 23, 2011

Jesus calls Simon and Andrew and James and John to be disciples.

What does it mean to be a disciple?

In the response of Simon, Andrew, James, and John there is no discussion.  There are no questions.  All we are told is that they immediately left everything and followed him.

That can be pretty hard to imagine.  Can you imagine giving up your whole way of life to follow someone you have just met?  What would it take to motivate you to do this?

Well, what is it that Simon, Andrew, James, and John are responding to?  We are left with the impression that this is their first time encountering Jesus.  If that is the case, they have not heard him preach before or seen him do any miracles.  Perhaps they have heard from others about him but it would seem doubtful to think 2nd hand information would generate such an immediate response.

So, again, what are they responding to?

They, the people in darkness (meaning the Roman rule) have seen a great light.  Jesus is the light and Simon, Andrew, James, and John are immediately drawn to the light.

In essence, they are not responding to the physical presence of Jesus.  They are responding to the divine presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within him.  With their hearts truly open, they must sense that presence and are immediately drawn to it, without condition or reservation.  Without condition – meaning they don’t ask questions (immediately – the questions will come when they ask Jesus to explain the parables).  They don’t ask what they must believe to join.

They sense the divine and it is what they seek.  They don’t even know who Jesus is yet but they are drawn to him.

Put your feet in the place of theirs.  Here comes this man that you don’t really know and he says to you “follow me.”  Would you take him to be a nut and walk away?  This would be missing the divine presence in Jesus.

Would you start asking questions?  The most basic question might be “follow you where?”  Or you might ask “what is it you believe in?  Tell me what you think and if I agree with you then maybe I will think about it.  (–> We all might have a lot of questions for God but are we only willing to be disciples if we like what Jesus has to say?)  To be a disciple is to be a student of the teacher and learn what the teacher, who is Jesus, has to say and follow in his way.

Would you say yes and immediately follow him? (–> Your heart is totally open to God and doing it his way)

I think, well I hope, we would all like to be in the third category and say yes.  If Jesus stood before us and we knew it was him we would follow him.  But it doesn’t seem to be that simple, does it?

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul tells them that they should all agree on what to say, no divisions, and that they should all be united in the same mind.    Paul talks about how the people are saying “I belong to Paul” or “I belong to Apollos.”  We identify our self by the church we attend.  Here we attend St. Michael’s, which is part of Our Lady of the Lakes, and the Diocese of Rochester, and the universal Roman Catholic Church.  While we identify who we are by the church we attend, it is not divide us.  We do so aware that we are part of something bigger than just St. Michael’s.

What are we to agree on?  We can agree that Jesus is our Savior; that he died for our sins and that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

As part of the Catholic Church most of the what we do at Mass is the same in every Roman Catholic Church in the world.  But we each are given different gifts to serve in different ways.  As Paul writes to the Corinthians he will later speak of being members of the Body of Christ.  Christ is the head of the body.  But a body has many parts, head, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  Every part of the body performs a different function but all the parts work together to form one body. 

We each have different gifts.  Jesus calls each of us to be his disciples according to the gifts we have been given.  

Are you open to discovering God’s will?  Are you open to God’s truth?  It isn’t as simple as it sounds.  What do you need to do to follow Jesus?


Fr. Jeff

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