Daily Reflection
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.

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