Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 22, 2017 - The Call of the First Disciples

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Reading 1:   IS 8:23-9:3
Response:  Psalm   27
Reading 2:  1 COR 1:10-13, 17
Gospel:  MT 4:12-23

When I reflect on Jesus’ calling the first disciples to spread the “good news,” I am struck how different and yet the same the callings can be today. The environments are different, yet the essence of the callings is the same.

Travel was very challenging and limited in the time of Jesus. Much of the activity of the earliest disciples was centered around the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. Travel was by foot, by animals, or by boat. However, there was a culture of faith and tradition on which to build.

On the other hand, with the modern means of communication, the word can be sent around the world with comparative ease. However, there is a greater need to be able to explain and defend one’s beliefs. There can be resistance because of distractions, lack of interest, and a sense of self-sufficiency, especially in first world countries.

Requirements for both the early disciples and the current ones are courage, perseverance and willingness to sacrifice.  They must be ready to face opposition and be able to defend their teaching and preaching.

The early disciples needed to support their belief in Jesus as the Savior by in-depth knowledge of the ancient Scriptures. Today, people need to study their faith in-depth as adults. Challenges come from many different sources. A course or books on apologetics (defense of the faith) could be helpful.

When I was a campus minister at our University, some of our Catholic students experienced being told by other students that they would be going to hell if they did not join a fundamentalist church. They would come to me upset, and I would try to reassure them that God was just.  If a person were sincere in his/her beliefs, God would read their hearts and treat them fairlyIt would be an insult to God to think that He would do otherwise. I felt sad that these students did not know enough about their faith to be able to defend it.

I recall that when I was a teenager,  I decided that I would not be a Catholic just because my parents were Catholic. However, I was fortunate to have a course in apologetics when I was a senior. This convinced me of the truth of my Catholic faith, in spite of the sins and human weaknesses of some of its members through the years.

As with any goal in life, perseverance is key.  Travel and long days caused Jesus and his disciples to become tired, yet they carried on. We too can grow weary with all the demands of our lives. It can be tempting to neglect sharing our faith and occupy our time with other things.

Finally, like Jesus, the early disciples had to be willing to endure hardships and sacrifice to spread the gospel. Some even gave up their lives for their faith. Today, many Christians are suffering and dying for their faith throughout the world. Let us pray for them and for all who daily spend themselves to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is so sorely needed in our world.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

El llamado de los primeros discípulos 

Cuando reflexiono sobre el llamado de Jesús a los primeros discípulos a difundir la “buena noticia”, me sorprende lo diferentes que son los llamamientos hoy en día. Los ambientes son diferentes, pero la esencia de los llamamientos es la misma.

El viaje fue muy desafiante y limitado en el tiempo de Jesús. Gran parte de la actividad de los primeros discípulos se centró alrededor del Mar de Galilea y el río Jordán. El viaje era a pie, por animales, o en barco. Sin embargo, había una cultura de la fe y la tradición sobre la cual construir.

Por otro lado, con los modernos medios de comunicación, la palabra puede ser enviada alrededor del mundo con relativa facilidad. Sin embargo, hay una mayor necesidad de ser capaz de explicar y defender sus creencias. Puede haber resistencia debido a distracciones, falta de interés y un sentido de autosuficiencia, especialmente en los países del primer mundo.

Requisitos para los primeros discípulos y los actuales son el coraje, la perseverancia y la voluntad de sacrificar. Deben estar preparados para enfrentar la oposición y ser capaces de defender su enseñanza y predicación.

Los primeros discípulos necesitaban apoyar su creencia en Jesús como el Salvador por un profundo conocimiento de las antiguas Escrituras. Hoy en día, la gente necesita para estudiar su fe en profundidad como adultos. Los desafíos provienen de muchas fuentes diferentes. Un curso o libros sobre apologética (defensa de la fe) podrían ser útiles.

Cuando yo era un ministro del campus en nuestra Universidad, algunos de nuestros estudiantes católicos experimentaron que otros estudiantes les dijeran que irían al infierno si no se unieran a una iglesia fundamentalista. Me vendrían trastornados, y trataría de tranquilizarlos de que Dios era justo. Si una persona fuera sincera en sus creencias, Dios leería sus corazones y los trataría con justicia. Sería un insulto a Dios pensar que haría lo contrario. Me sentía triste que estos estudiantes no sabían lo suficiente acerca de su fe para poder defenderla.

Recuerdo que cuando era adolescente, decidí que no sería católica sólo porque mis padres eran católicos. Sin embargo, tuve la suerte de tener un curso de apologética cuando era mayor. Esto me convenció de la verdad de mi fe católica, a pesar de los pecados y las debilidades humanas de algunos de sus miembros a través de los años.

Como con cualquier meta en la vida, la perseverancia es clave. Los viajes y los largos días hicieron que Jesús y sus discípulos se cansaran, pero continuaron. Nosotros también podemos crecer cansados ​​con todas las demandas de nuestras vidas. Puede ser tentador dejar de compartir nuestra fe y ocupar nuestro tiempo con otras cosas.

Finalmente, como Jesús, los primeros discípulos tenían que estar dispuestos a soportar las dificultades y el sacrificio para difundir el evangelio. Algunos incluso renunciaron a sus vidas por su fe. Hoy en día, muchos cristianos están sufriendo y muriendo por su fe en todo el mundo. Oremos por ellos y por todos los que se dedican diariamente a difundir la Buena Nueva de Jesucristo, que es tan necesario en nuestro mundo.


  1. I love personal stories and I savor details. I find that the deeper into the particulars I go the more I can relate and learn. Every time I hear this gospel I am filled with questions. I’d like nothing more than to connect with Peter, Andrew, James and John at Starbucks and delve into their unique accounts while sipping lattes. I’d like to know what was key to how they were able to abandon their families and livelihoods immediately. Whenever I read stories of missionaries or saints I am absorbed in the reflection and discernment periods they take prior to making a decision to do the Lord’s work. After all, these are life altering decisions. I’d like to know if James and John’s father ever got over the fact that his sons left him sitting on the boat! Did Peter’s mother-in-law ever recover from the shock that her daughter’s husband took to the road with Jesus.
    What was it about Jesus that led these four men to such “Reckless Readiness,” as Robert Barron dubbed their behavior? Were they lured by the Charisma of Jesus? Did Jesus’ Divinity radiate through Him? Was it grace that drew them in? Where these men experiencing a “divine discontent,” desiring a change or yearning for more adventurous, fulfilling work? Did they receive a revelation from God through Jesus’ invitation to follow him? Did they know Jesus prior to this encounter or know of him through John the Baptist? Something about Jesus’ call drew them away from the status quo and set them on a life changing journey “to be fishers of men” where they would touch innumerable souls, establish the Church, and glorify the Lord.
    I ask myself how I would have responded. Would my attachments to the stuff of my life be a barrier to accepting the invitation to follow? Would I argue that I am not smart enough or holy enough to be part of the”soul” team?
    As I exit my café fantasy, I am aware of all that I know of Jesus today as a result of Catholic education, the Sacraments, and Scripture. How many times have I traveled the path with Jesus through His Ministry, Passion, Death and Resurrection? Perhaps, the most important question I ought to ask myself now is, how am I responding to Jesus’ call to discipleship?
    Jesus’ invitation to discipleship is extended to each of us. Why is it so difficult to forge ahead with total abandon? I know that Jesus is the real deal – He is my Lord and Savior, and still, I hesitate at times to surrender to His call.
    I am encouraged by your post where you note that perseverance is key. I often feel weary from the demands of daily living and use it as an excuse to not do more. I cringe at the thought of sacrifice. Yet, like Peter, Andrew, James and John, I am attracted to the lifestyle of Jesus because it speaks of peace beyond understanding and offers eternal life.
    The condition of our world reflects countless numbers of hurting, broken brothers and sisters yearning for wholeness, healing and love. The need for fishers of men is as urgent now as it was when Jesus walked the shores. In his Homily of January 25, 2016, Pope Francis stated, “we recognize with joy that at the origin of our Christian life there is always a call from God Himself. We can make progress on the path to full visible communion between us Christians not only when we come closer to each other, but above all as we convert ourselves to the Lord, who through His grace, chooses and calls us to be His disciples. And converting ourselves means letting the Lord live and work in us.”
    Awed at the difference the disciples made in the world by choosing to follow Jesus, I open myself to discipleship and trust in Jesus to guide me.

  2. How true! As we well know, the bearers of the Good News, unfortunately, are not always recognized or welcomed with open arms
    immediately. They need to be brave and persistent. The advice we find in the Responsorial Psalm for this Sunday is very appropriate:
    "Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord."

    The following excerpts, based on Psalm 27, are from a general audience by Pope John Paul II:

    "The first part of the Psalm we are now meditating upon is marked by a deep tranquility, based on trust in God on the dark day of the evildoers' assault. ... The faithful know that being consistent creates ostracism and even provokes contempt and hostility in a society that often chooses to live under the banner of personal prestige, ostentatious success, wealth, unbridled enjoyment. They are not alone, however, and preserve a surprising interior peace in their hearts because, as the marvelous 'antiphon' that opens the Psalm says, 'the Lord is light and salvation...the stronghold of life' (cf.Ps 27:1) of the just. He continuously repeats: 'Whom shall I fear?', 'Of whom shall I be afraid?', 'My heart shall not fear', 'Yet I will trust.' (cf.vv.1,3)."

    "It almost seems as though we were hearing the voice of St. Paul proclaiming: 'If God is for us, who is against us?' (Rom 8:31).
    But inner calm, strength of soul and peace are gifts obtained by seeking shelter in the temple, that is, by recourse to personal and communal prayer."

    "Indeed, the person praying entrusts himself to God's embrace, and another Psalm also expresses that person's dream: 'I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.' (cf. Ps 23:6). There he will be able to 'savor the sweetness of the Lord' (Ps 27:4, to contemplate and admire the divine mystery, to take part in the sacrificial liturgy and sing praise to God who sets him free (cf.v.6). The Lord creates around his faithful a horizon of peace that blocks out the clamor of evil. Communion with God is a source of serenity, joy and tranquility; it is like reaching an oasis of light and love."

    "Even in solitude and the loss of the closest ties of affection, the person of prayer is never completely alone since the merciful God is bending over him. Our thought goes to a well-known passage from the prophet Isaiah, who attributes to God sentiments of compassion and tenderness that are more than maternal: 'Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.' (Is 49:15)."
    Pope John Paul II
    General Audience
    April 28, 2004