"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.". . . He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
In case we got sidetracked during the last Liturgical Year, this weekend’s Gospel (Mt 4:18-22) gives us a chance to grasp Jesus’ beckoning hand and join Him in giving people an awareness of our Father’s often unperceived presence in and through the happenings of our everyday lives.
Let’s bring the matter of discipleship into our present day by looking at some interesting and, perhaps, unintended nuances of the NBC “This Is Us” TV Series. It began by introducing us to three thirty-six year olds each of whom appears trapped and perplexed by some reality of their life – not unlike the people of every age and era, even those in Jesus’ time. Then, by ping-ponging us through their thirty-seven years of existence (a timely story for next week’s March for Life!), the series' creator draws us into the characters’ pasts and into the lives of their parents, Jack and Rebecca, who poured their hearts and souls into creating good lives for them.
We soon learn that a wise ob-gyn advised Jack, on the loss of one of his three newborns, that he can take the “sourest of lemons that life can bring” and make lemonade. In subsequent episodes we watch as Jack and his wife find many ways to do that for themselves and for their unusual “triplets.” Their children, however, now thirty-six year olds, have and are still getting bombarded with lemons, but appear to have made very little lemonade. The last 2016 episode left some of us noticing this and wondering “Why?”
Interestingly, and perhaps unintended, the first 2017 episode “What Do You Do For Love” shows one thing about the parents that appears to be missing in the lives of the adult triplets: a turning to God for help. Jack, bombarded with lemons as the triplet delivery draws near, sits in his car and, in desperation, prays something like, “God, I know I only pray to you about playoffs. . . but help my wife.” Another scene: in a confessional, the fireman, who subsequently finds abandoned baby Randal, asks for a miracle to save his marriage. Both prayers are, in the jargon of those past days, answered – lemons turned into lemonade. Yes, the efforts and, more importantly, the hearts of the characters were involved in the transformation and experienced the joy of it, but so was their partnership with God.
Perhaps the question for us to answer is this: In trying to modernize our lives in the area of faith, have we lost what we need to make our lives truly happy? Does re-answering the call and, perhaps, re-learning about God make us less perplexed and more able to experience Jack’s and Rebecca’s centeredness and joy?
Agreed, a lot of the ways we were taught to think about life and God don’t seem to fit us. We’ve changed. But, in a lot of respects, the Church’s ways of presenting our faith have changed, too.
Let’s consider this, for ourselves and for the welfares and futures of our families, friends and neighbors. Is it time for us to re-answer Jesus' call to learn about our Father? How are we going to do that? Let's look at what St. Michael's has to offer us in opportunities to talk about and to explore together our call.
Jesus says, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.". . . He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.