Twelve disciples said ‘yes!’ Dozens, maybe hundreds (thousands?) said ‘no thanks’ or else made an excuse not to commit to becoming his student.
Jesus moved on.
He did not have time for ‘maybe.’ He invited and if you were going to follow, you’d better get on your feet because he was leaving town and you might not be able to find him again later.
“The birds in the air and the foxes in the field have nests or dens but the son of man,” Jesus told his disciples, “has no place to lay his head.”
Every day Jesus set out on foot in a different direction. People heard about his miracles and came to see for themselves what God was doing through this young man of 30 years. And while he cured the sick he also blessed the children and those whose faith was weak with renewed hope and love.
Come and see.
The first is an invite. The second is a command.
Come. Get off your duff and encounter the world, its people and bounty. See in them the hope and love that comes from someone whose sole support is the Lord God. The poor, the widow and orphan. The leper.
Make the connection that we are all neighbor, and brothers and sisters to one another and called to minister to one another’s needs so that lives are filled with hope.
See. See how God is working in their lives and in the lives of those who minister to them. Ask yourself - where is God in my life and what am I doing to live out God’s love and service to others? See into your own soul and respond.
Give them something yourselves.
We are beginning a new catechetical season and parents are registering their young ones for faith formation classes. I am often around for this and noticed a dad standing back, watching as his son received directions regarding selecting his confirmation class, service hour requirements and attendance policies.
Following Jesus’ example, I engaged the father in conversation. “Are you involved in ministry here at the church?” I inquired, thinking that they could do something as a family.
“I am not that strong in my faith yet,” the father responded immediately.
I was taken aback.
Where in the Bible, I wondered, does it say only the strong need apply? True, Peter was a fisherman, so he probably had a strong back… but he wasn’t the most astute individual when it came to understanding what Jesus was talking about. He needed time. Practice. A nurturing community. And yes, the Holy Spirit to empower him (and the others) to proclaim the Good News to people everywhere.
All Peter needed was a dollop of faith. And Jesus was able to multiply his gifts as he did the loaves and fishes until Peter (and everyone) was fed.
We are all like Peter sometimes. Myself included.
Reticent. Hoping not to be picked to answer the teacher’s question in school. Second-guessing ourselves. We are afraid we will be wrong. Or look foolish. We allow fear to overcome our reasoning. We freeze up.
But Jesus is not a math test. He’s the real deal. God incarnate.
And he’s inviting us to action.
‘Come and See if you aren’t worthy to follow the Lord.’ To serve him and your brothers and sisters in faith.
If you have a compassionate heart, a sense of justice or faith the size of a mustard seed, God can use you. And even if you don’t have them now… ask God for them and God will give you more than you think you need, because God is just that good… and just… and faithful.
Jesus loves you (and me) and promised never to give you more than you can handle (with his support).
You just need to make the commitment.
Jesus is moving on.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.