Matthew 4:12-23

In today's Gospel Jesus arrives on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He has finished his personal trials and temptations in the desert and is ready to begin his public life, his mission to bring about God's reign on earth. This is to be a reign of peace and justice, compassion and forgiveness in a world that far too often prefers war, is unjust and lacks compassion and forgiveness. It's an enormous task. It's not going to be a sprint. It's a marathon at best.

Jesus realizes he can't do it alone. He needs helpers. So the first thing on his agenda is to forming a community, That's why he is here at the Galilee shore: to call people to help him. As he walks the beach, he sees fishermen: Simon and Andrew, then James and John. He doesn't call them to repentance as John the Baptist may have. No. Instead he invites them to leave everything behind and follow him.

Now if you and I had been in that group of fishermen, we might well have a few questions for Jesus: Who are you, anyway? Why should we follow you and leave everything we've worked so hard for? This is our livelihood, our way of life? We don't know where you're going, and what would we be doing if we decided to follow you? What's in it for us? ...Yes, these are the kinds of questions we might ask Jesus. But these fishermen did not question Jesus. Perhaps it was Jesus' persona, his charisma that silenced them. We don't know. But we do know that from that day on they and others like them walked with Jesus. They have no idea what their future was to hold, no idea of the triumphs and tragedies that lay ahead. They simply choose to walk with Jesus with open hearts and curious minds. They had been summoned by Jesus to become part of an ongoing community that would help establish God's reign on earth... and they readily accepted the invitation!

Here we are, you and I, two thousand years later. We too are a part of that original community picked by Jesus. We weren't at the Sea of Galilee, but we were at a body of water called the baptismal font. And we too were summoned by name: Dennis, James, Linda, Thomas. Ronald, Jean. Just as surely as were the first apostles, we are an integral part of Jesus/ community of believers, called to be peacemakers, justice seekers, people of compassion and forgiveness ae" all those qualities of life that enable God's reign to come on this Earth. At our baptisms, we didn't know what the future would hold for us anymore than did the apostles when they were first called.

But as we grow in faith, hope and love, we ought to become more community-minded, realizing that it is in, with and through community involvement that we become the followers of that Jesus needs so intensely. In community we are here to support each other in prayer, word and action. Let it be so!

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