As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, whose dramatic call to follow Jesus we just heard. Jesus extends his irresistible invitation: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Andrew, along with his brother Peter, as well as James and John, immediately respond with radical obedience. Immediately, the gospel writer emphasizes, immediately these first-called disciples drop everything – their livelihood, homes, families, ambitions, hopes, and expectations – everything is cast aside in order to follow Jesus.
Now, what’s missing here is any sense of what was going on in the lives of these men, of what would make it possible for them to respond so radically and obediently to Jesus’ call. I can’t help but think there must be more to the story. Some questions they asked, “What do you mean fish for people?” Some fears they expressed, “How will we make a living?” Some sadness they felt, “Can I say goodbye to my mother?” And perhaps even a protest or two, “But this is the only life we’ve ever known!”
Yes, it’s safe to assume that being human, like the rest of us, the first disciples had questions, doubts, insecurities, and reservations in the face of Jesus’ call. It’s safe to assume the first disciples struggled with letting go. And it didn’t stop after their initial call, it continued for their lifetime.
And the same for us, a lot of us struggle with letting go. Yet, it’s probably incorrect to say we struggle to let go. We struggle, rather, when we refuse to let go. When we cling, when we grasp, when we work and try harder, to do better and to be good, then, then we struggle. But letting go is about trust, radical trust. Letting go is about trusting Jesus. Trusting that whatever Jesus calls us to is far better than anything we are being asked to leave behind. We are never asked to let go of anything we wouldn’t be infinitely better off without.
That’s not to say we won’t have questions, and that’s not to say we won’t have doubts, or reservations in response to Jesus’ call. Nor does it mean that our lives will be free from pain and problems. But the same God who calls us to new life is the same God who empowers us to let go of the old life, just as He empowered Andrew, Peter, James, and John to let go of everything, immediately, despite their doubts and fears.
Living life with open arms, that is, letting go, letting go of the plans and designs we have for our own lives; we trust that God is working through us, enabling us to become the people He created us to be. We trust that good things will come to us, even if some good things aren’t always what we have in mind. Andrew, for example, faced a martyr’s death. He could, no doubt, have spent his entire life casting nets into the Sea of Galilee with his brother, but he accepted the pain of letting go, he accepted the risk of following Jesus, and lived a life beyond anything he could have hoped for or imagined, and, in effect, impacted the whole world.
So Jesus extends the same invitation to us: let go, trust me, follow me. The way will not always be easy, and we will we often have questions, doubts, and reservations in response to Jesus’ ongoing call. But the same Jesus who calls us will empower us to follow Him day-by-day. And we find, in the end, that when we follow him, the new life we live not only far surpasses the old life we let go of, but is in fact far better than anything we ever hoped for or imagined. Amen.
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