3 Sunday B The calling of the first apostles

Four minute homilies

16-01-2024 • 3 mins

The calling of the first apostles

In the Gospels of these first Sundays we are at the beginning of Jesus’ public life, when he calls the apostles. Today we see Jesus calling the first four, Simon and Andrew, John and James. Last Sunday we saw the first meeting of Jesus with John and Andrew. Today Jesus is formally calling them, together with their brothers to follow him. He found them where they were, working as fishermen, in their own natural habitat, among boats and nets. Jesus is also calling us where we are, in the midst of society, among our relatives and friends, working to make our environment a better place.

Why is Jesus calling them? He doesn’t need people, he is God and he can do whatever he wants. But he prefers to work with us; he thinks that is better for us to give him a hand, for us to feel we are cooperating with him. We are fulfilled when we see that we are making a difference. Saint Josemaria give us a nice comparison, to explain our desire to help God, one he witnessed himself: “We saw a boat approaching the shore. Some men jumped out. They began to haul in the net that trailed behind the boat. It was laden with fishes, all shining like silver. Their feet sank into the sand as they pulled away with amazing strength. Then all of a sudden a little boy appeared. He came up to the rope, seized it with his tiny hands and began to tug away with evident clumsiness. The tough fishermen must have felt their hearts soften, for they allowed the child to join in, without chasing him away, even though he was more of a hindrance than a help. I thought of you and of myself.” God does the same thing with us. We are more of a nuisance, but God’s heart is moved when we try to pull the rope with him.

Why isn’t Jesus calling more people? He is, but some people don’t want to give him a hand, others don’t listen to his voice, and others begin to help him, but they get discouraged or disappointed, and abandon the task. He tells us to pray more: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers to his harvest.” But don’t worry; God normally uses a few people for us to see that it is him doing the job. We should be very grateful to see that he is working with us, that he allows us to give him a hand.

Why did Jesus call mainly fishermen? He centred his ministry around the lake of Gennesaret, but there were other people around there with different professions. He must have found that fishermen have virtues suitable for fishing men: patience, constancy, perseverance, endurance and hard working habits. Maybe he wanted his 12 apostles to come from the same place, to know each other prior to their calling, to have a group already bonded. We don’t know; all we can do is to beat around the bush, but at the end of the day God does what he wants, and he knows what he is doing.

All the apostles left everything to be able to follow Jesus. Today we see John and Andrew leaving the boat and their father behind. I imagine Zebedee, their father, looking at them from the boat, not agreeing with the decision of his sons. This is the condition of a true apostle. It is not the matter of how much we have or what we have, but if we want to follow Jesus closer, we need to leave things behind. To increase our speed we need to travel light.