|Feast of St. Andrew, apostle
Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
Today is the feast of St. Andrew the apostle. Andrew lived in Bethsaida of Galilee and had a brother Simon (renamed Peter). Both were fishermen, yet Andrew reportedly followed John the Baptist which likely led him and later his brother to Jesus. Responding to the call to follow John the Baptist, Jesus, and then to minister to others seems to be Andrew’s strength.
Today’s gospel reading is Matthew’s account of Jesus calling the fishermen into relationship and ministry. It’s difficult to believe that these fishermen immediately dropped their nets to follow Jesus. I don’t know many in ministry that have responded in kind, yet the sense of call grabs my imagination. Instead of addressing the immediacy of the fishermen’s responses, the nature of Jesus’ calling is noteworthy. What was it about Jesus that got those fishermen to leave their familiar lives to follow him? Perhaps the fishing was poor that year or maybe they wanted to escape for other reasons. Whatever the case, Jesus’ invitation to enter into relationship and ministry changed the lives of those original fishermen.
Jesus continues to call people from their present lives into ministry and service of others. Many point to the declining priestly vocations or vocations to religious life as an argument to a lack of people being called or at least responding. Perhaps the Church limits God’s call by placing it in terms of priestly or religious vocation. I believe that many are being called to ministry, but lack the understanding of how to live that calling. As a young adult Catholic, it took many years to understand my calling to lay ministry in the church. For years, I framed the question in terms of being a priest or having a family. Not wanting to commit the whole of my life to priesthood, I hung around church and church activities while pursuing a teaching career. It wasn’t until I reformed the question to how can I best serve God, others and have a family that I was released from the “either-or” way of thinking. “Both-and” became my new way of thinking, and that is responding to both a call to ministry and a call to family life.
Some young people I know seem to be stuck in a way of thinking that is similar to how I used to think. They feel the urges to minister to others, yet do not understand how to live that calling. When we are living the life that God has guided us to, using our God given gifts in the service of others, than we have found our vocation and a fulfilling life. I know faith-filled doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, secretaries, etc., who are fulfilled in their careers and bring the gospel to all they touch. They seem like ministers in disguise to me or perhaps I need to broaden my understanding of who Jesus is calling to minister and the many ways there is to live that out.
Today’s readings point to bringing the good news of Jesus to others through a sense of calling. You may want to reflect on how and what is God calling you to do.
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