Called and Sent: Becoming Apostles – Br. Keith Nelson

St. Andrew the Apostle

Deuteronomy 30:11-14;
Romans 10:8b-18;
Matthew 4:18-22

In the Eastern Church, St. Andrew is known by the title Protokletos: St. Andrew, the First-Called.

In this first week of Advent, the first week of the liturgical year, today’s feast provides a simple but profound opportunity to return to first principles.

In a contemplative spirit, we can pause to reconsider some fundamental questions about what it means to be called by Jesus, and what it means to be sent.

Through whom did Jesus first call you?

We are each embedded in a web of relationships. It is in relationship that we have caught our particular attraction to Jesus. It is in relationships that we have been taught our understanding of who Jesus is: by a parent or grandparent; a teacher or mentor; a spiritual friend. Who in your life has modeled, or is modeling, a vivid, responsive faith in Jesus?

Toward what is Jesus calling you?

Jesus calls all of his followers to himself, to be servants of his kingdom and witnesses to his crucifed-and-risen life. But Jesus also calls each of us to follow in the particular way he knows is most needed for our ongoing conversion and the building up of his body, the Church. This call is dynamic and continues throughout our lives. In what direction is Jesus calling you at this precise moment? How is his call to you different now than it may have been last Advent?

From what is Jesus calling you?

The call of Jesus, whether subtle and gradual or sudden and dramatic, is life-changing. It resonates deep inside and stretches us toward new possibilities of becoming. But it can also be very disruptive, as we reckon with what we are being called to leave behind us. Jesus said to Andrew and Simon Peter, “I will make you fishers of people.” They knew what it meant to be fishers of fish, but fishers of people must have been a confusing new way to understand their life’s purpose. What places, roles, habits, or self-understandings does the call of Jesus now ask you to leave behind?

To whom is Jesus sending you?

Who in your life looks to you as someone who loves Jesus and follows him? What kinds of people are you uniquely suited to bring to Jesus? What unique sensitivities do you have for noticing how Jesus is already active in the lives of those around you, and for pointing that out? Those who are sent, the meaning of the word apostle, are bearers of Jesus, but they are also those attuned to finding and naming his presence and power where it may be hidden in plain sight.

“The word is very near you; on your lips and in your heart.” Like St. Andrew, may we, too, be apostles of this life-changing Word.

Lectionary Year and Proper: Year A, Advent I

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  1. Elizabeth Hardy on December 5, 2023 at 11:17

    Thank you for this. I know what Jesus is calling me to do, this Advent. I just need the courage, self-denial and humility to pursue it. We have a gentleman who has just been worshipping with us for two weeks. He has some mildly disruptive behaviours. I noticed at coffee time he was sitting on his own while I and others enjoyed our usual coffee ‘cliques’. This Sunday I will move out of my comfort zone and sit with him and get to know him. This is how Advent will be different for me this year and how I will “follow in the way that is most needed for {my} conversion and the building up of his body, the Church”. Elizabeth Hardy+

  2. Julianne Lindemann on December 5, 2023 at 07:16

    Thank you Br Keith. This is beautiful and so fitting for an adult forum discussion where I intend to use it. I would only add this. Even in modern times, Jesus may call us powerfully and directly, rather than through another person. Fear not. Replying “yes” upends our lives and transforms us. Doubts slowly drain away, replaced by assurance and conviction. That is when life begins gloriously anew.

  3. Linda Bissell on December 5, 2023 at 05:56

    There is also the possibility of discovering that you are not being called for any of these mentioned missions. Instead you are being called to be the receiver of love and goodwill. That can be one of the most humbling experiences in life.

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