Last week’s gospel was, like this week’s gospel, a scene in which Jesus begins to call people to the ministry. When people were curious, Jesus responded. “Come and you will see…”
Just as we have heard the words so often in Mass, last week the would-be apostles heard “Behold the Lamb of God….” were curious, wanted to know more, sensed the call of belonging – and so they followed… loosely at first, perhaps at a bit of a distance, a safe distance. Jesus sees them and speaks to their curiosity: “Come and see.” We are a naturally curious people, but we have also learned to let lots of calls go to voicemail and let the moment pass. Still…. We are a curious lot.
How curious? The advertisement for that new car whispers “come and see.” And so, we go, and kick the tires, ask your questions, take a test drive. We have no intention of buying a new car, but we are curious. The forever curious are those who never take ownership or walk away. Maybe our life in faith shares a little something with shopping for cars. It doesn’t do a lot of good to be forever curious.
What’s the old expression? Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back? Before you know it, we have plunged ahead and bought the car! “Come and see?” I came, I saw, and now I am the proud owner of this awesome car. And now… Now what? Come, see and buying are not the end of the story. What is good is it to forever leave that amazing vehicle in the garage? It would forever be a pretty thing, a showpiece, and left there eventually becomes an antique. Your faith left forever in these pews, never taken out for a spin on the roads of life might share the same fate.
“Come and see” only takes you to the place where you meet Jesus. But Jesus is moving onward, out onto the roads of life and you repeatedly have to decide to follow. It is just the same as it was along that Galilean shoreline: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
We came, we saw, but now… will we follow? Will we choose to shove off from our familiar shorelines and be those fishers of men? Will we figure out our part in the great fishing expedition? There are lots of parts to fill. Some will cast the nets, throw out the lines, and reel them in. Some will bait the hooks. Some steer the vessel. Some man the oars, set the sails, chart the course. Some will clean the catch, swab the decks, man the docks, deliver the product to market, staff the selling stalls. Some will advertise, hand out brochures, build a web site and social media, some will operate payroll, human resources. Some will be in vessel maintenance, repair the sails and the nets, overhaul the engines, forecast the weather. Some will teach the next generation the whole mysterious complex of being fishers of men. Some will wait and pray for the safe return of those who cast their life upon the mighty waters, lighting the candles that those who venture to sea will see the porch light shining upon their return.
Each of us called to figure out our part, trusting we contribute to that higher purpose, knowing that we belong and are engaged in this common endeavor. As individual and as a community, trying our best to follow Jesus through the toil, the successes and failures. The curiosity stemming from “Behold the Lamb of God;” gets answered only because each day we again choose to follow.
Answered in each day we choose to belong and do our part – as small or as grand as it may be. From Bishop to just baptized, from child to catechist, from priest to parent, accountant to acolyte, lector to leader, in hospital or hospice, migrant camp to summer camp – every role, every port of call, every body of water sailed – all of it part of the unfolding mystery of following Christ and being fishers of men.
Sometimes you hear the direct call to serve the vital and necessary service here dockside as part of the liturgy team – lector, cantor, choir, altar server, usher, greeter, or Eucharistic Minister. Sometimes we will call for able-bodied seamen to head out on the waters to ministry as leaders and hosts for faith formation, baptismal preparation, marriage prep, bereavement ministry, feeding the hungry, St. Vincent de Paul, and more. Sometimes we ask people to put into the deep waters and sail afar to Beau Sejour, Haiti.
It is a new year, a new fishing season.
You are here in church; you’ve answered the “Come and see…” That brings you to the place where you meet Jesus. Curiosity gets you only so far. But Jesus is moving onward, out onto the highways and byways of life; the estuaries, bays and oceans of this world; and you repeatedly have to decide to follow – move to the place where Jesus leads, and you follow.
Out to the place where curiosity gives way to the newness of life and mystery. Where the mystery unfolds of what it fully means to answer Jesus’ call: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”