26 January, 2014

Homily for the Third Sunday of Epiphany (A) 2014


Matthew 4:12-23

Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him (4:19-20).
Over the last couple of Sundays I have talked to you about several aspects of the Christian vocation, understood not as a vocation to the consecrated religious life, not as a vocation to the sacred priesthood, but as our communal vocation to be followers of Jesus. On the first Sunday we have considered together how God calls us to love one another and those around us with the love of Christ. Last Sunday we have considered some of the tasks to which God calls us through the words of the prophet Isaiah. These tasks are to encourage the Church to be more faithful, to mediate between factions, to support each-other, and to bring God’s love to others.

Today we encounter another vocational theme: following Christ.
But what does that even mean?
On the positive side, we can follow someone by walking behind them, like we would follow a guide along a treacherous costal path. We can follow by paying close attention to what another does or says, as in the case of following someone on Twitter on in the news. We can follow a person by observing their instructions, as in the case of following a cherished recipe handed on to us by our mother. We can follow by imitating someone else’s life.
On the negative side, we can follow someone by putting them under surveillance. We can follow someone by stalking their movements. We can follow someone, by waiting for the right moment to cause them the most harm.
So when Jesus says Follow me, what does this mean for us? At the end of the day, even those who fiercely opposed Jesus followed him closely. They followed him in order to antagonise his ministry.

Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him (4:19-20).
Following Christ in our daily living means to exhibit all the positive behaviours I have listed. It means trusting Jesus as our guide in the treacherous path of life; it means paying close attention to everything that he says and does; it means observing what he instructs us to do; it means imitating his life.

But there is more. As we read on we see that immediately after having recruited some disciples Jesus goes with them throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness (4:23). Therefore following Jesus also means to go with him wherever he chooses to go, wherever his healing and truth are needed; it means facilitating his work of teaching, proclaiming and healing.

How often do we respond generously to this vocation!? How often do we take Jesus as our guide? How often do we imitate the life of Christ in our daily living? How often do we proclaim the truth of the gospel? How often are we agents of God’s healing?

Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’
May our patron saints Peter and Andrew, who had the courage of leaving everything behind to follow the Lord, help us with their prayers. May we have the courage of accepting daily anew our communal vocation to become ever better followers of and imitators of Christ. Amen.

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