The Feast of St. Andrew
[Scripture Readings: Rom 10:9-18; MT 4:18-22]
We sometimes act on impulse and do something totally out of character or of prudent behavior. We go shopping and spend on impulse or we take a trip someplace. We usually regret these actions later because they are difficult to integrate within our normal life. We felt overcome by some unconscious psychic need: “the devil made me do it.”
Did the first disciples just act on impulse in leaving their occupations and families to follow Jesus? It might seem like that from the Gospel text, but various commentators think that a good bit of interaction between Jesus and these men had preceded this action. A lot of history was being condensed into a few verses.
Yet the sense of “suddenness” to the call is significant. Here was an invitation, an interaction , which suddenly broke through the normal expectations. It broke through the familiar, the secure, and the profitable routine of life of these men. Their response was not the result of a logical process of deliberation, a prudent evaluation of personal benefit. The call of Jesus introduced something new, something more than their life already held. It came from outside and bore a force which had the compelling strength to draw them.
These fishermen of Galilee were a pretty unlikely vocation pool for Jesus to be himself fishing in. He would have done better to have a vocation discernment week-end directed to all the smart, young rabbinical students studying in Jerusalem. Galilee was a suspect backwater area, a bad mix of Jew, Greek and Roman. Fishermen were respectable enough, but not the brightest lights you might want to select for an elite group. They were an unlikely and even scandalous group and their subsequent behavior didn’t raise them above this initial assessment. But then, the church has always been populated by scandalous and unlikely people. If we were able to be totally honest with each other here this morning, we would have to acknowledge that we are a scandalous and unlikely group to be addressed by the word of God.
The Church is apostolic because it is created and recreated by the word which chooses to dwell in its midst. It is the Word which gathers us, teaches us, corrects us, and inspires us to live in a new way in our world. It comes to us with the same “suddenness” with which it came to those fishermen of Galilee. The Word proclaimed and made alive in the worshipping assembly retains that directness which is proper to an word which is heard, an aural word. In our literate and post — literate world, we are apt to think of a word as something we can read and take away for our private use. But the real heart of the word as spoken is its immediate, confronting, engaging character as drawing us into itself. The word has the power to change and convert us if we accept it into that deep creative level of our own spirit. “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” We are not distant in time or space from the immediacy and suddenness of that Word. It has the power to make us witnesses to its Spirit. In the decree Lumen Gentium of Vatican II, the Church describes herself as “drawn by the Holy Spirit to do her part for the full realization of the plan of God who has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world.” We, as the apostolic church, are drawn by that same Spirit to let the horizon of our lives be the full realization of that plan of God.