November 30th, 2007
Tom Bannantine, S.J.
School of Nursing
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Today is the feast of St. Andrew the apostle. In the gospel reading
St. Matthew tells us how Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and
John to follow him and become apostles. As I read this text I am
struck by the importance of listening. Throughout the New Testament
we are exhorted again and again to hear the word of the Lord. The
evangelists and Paul speak often of the necessity to not only see
the wonders worked by Jesus but also to listen to his message.
In this gospel reading the necessity of listening is clearly demonstrated.
The two sets of brothers heard Jesus calling them to follow him.
But they didn't just hear Jesus; they listened attentively to his
words and they responded to his call by following him. I think that
the most noteworthy thing about this scene from the gospel story
is the alacrity with which the apostles heeded the call of Jesus
and followed him. They followed Jesus immediately. They just left
their nets and their boats and walked off after Jesus right then
and there. Surely this was strange behavior, and must have mystified
the other fishermen gathered there. As men who made their living
as commercial fishermen, Andrew and the others knew very well the
importance of tending their nets and caring for their boats. Normally
they would never have thought of leaving their nets unattended and
their boats adrift. On this occasion Zebedee and other fishermen
were able to take care of these things. We can only imagine what
they thought of the sudden departure of their friends. I wouldn't
think that they were happy about having to take over the chores
of Andrew and the others.
The words of Jesus obviously had a very powerful effect on the four
apostles. The words were very simple, yet their effect on Andrew
and the others was stunning. The words of Jesus didn't just go in
one ear of the apostles and out the other. They not only heard the
words but really listened to and understood them. The call of Jesus
captivated them completely. So much so that from that moment and
for the rest of their lives all of their efforts and actions were
devoted to the following of Jesus and the preaching and teaching
of his message.
I think the message that this gospel reading has for us today concerns
the importance of really listening to Jesus. We read and hear the
words of Jesus, but do we really listen to his message and understand
it? Do we hear the words as addressed to ourselves? The words of
Jesus may not have the same effect on us as they did on Andrew and
the other apostles. But if we really listen to and understand the
words of Jesus, we too can become his followers just as Andrew and
the other apostles did.
to the writer of this reflection.
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