Last week in the gospel, John the Baptist pointed out Jesus with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God….” – the same words you will hear today during Mass. In the gospel two people heard those words and 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.”
Come to Mass and the Eucharist. Come to Bible Study. Come say your prayers, “Come and see.” Life has lots of “come and see” – moments when our curiosity is piqued. When we search and seek.
Those moments when we come and kick the tires, ask questions, take a test drive. Maybe our life in faith shares a little something with shopping for a new or used car. Eventually we either take ownership or we walk away. Curiosity stops when you sign the papers and own the vehicle.
Now what? Your car forever left in the garage might be a pretty thing, a showpiece, and left there will surely become 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 a larger purpose, knowing that we belong and are engaged in a common endeavor. As individual and as a community, trying our best to follow Jesus through the effort, the successes and failures.
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.
We are not alone or apart in this endeavor. Each us belongs to this great fleet which ranges from Rome to Rangoon, from St. Peter’s in Vatican City to St. Francis in Triangle, from Occoquan to the Rappahannock. Each of us is called. Each of us asked to let God’s grace empower the gifts we already possess.
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 in faith formation, helping outreach ministries, advocacy ministry, feeding the hungry, Francis House, and more. Sometimes we ask people to put into the deep waters and sail afar to distant shorelines.
You are here in church, the place where you meet Jesus in the Word and in Eucharist. 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. “Come after me…” and you have to decide to follow – move to the place where Jesus leads. Where there are even more curious moments. Where curiosity gives way to mystery. Where the mystery ever unfolds to reveal what it fully means to answer Jesus’ call: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
It’s a curious start. “Behold the Lamb of God.” A tentative first step: “come and see.” Taking your faith out for a spin “Come after me…” Shoving off into deep waters of this life. Sailing for the horizon of the life to come.
All it took was a little curiosity.