Jesus has been baptized by John in the Jordan River; he has spent forty days in the desert, and now he is beginning his public ministry by choosing his apostles. It is important to notice that when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, and then James and John, they each left everything immediately and followed him. Why would ordinary fishermen drop what they were doing to follow a stranger? Were they religious men? What sort of disposition would they need to recognize Jesus as a man they should follow?
The Gospel of John shows Jesus choosing Andrew and Peter under different circumstances. John the Baptist has just said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” as Jesus walked by and Gospel continues, “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, ’We have found the Messiah.’ Then he brought him to Jesus.” They were looking for the Messiah! They were Jews and their hope was in the promise of the coming of the Messiah. When they met Jesus, their lives were changed forever.
What is it that you hope for? What is the real desire of your heart? Is it in any way connected to your faith in God?
In article 1817 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states:
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
When we were baptized we received from God the theological gifts of faith, hope and charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have received from God everything we need to live a life close to Him, a life that will help us to reach our potential for happiness. This life close to God depends upon our response to His gifts. If we hope in God, He gives us the grace to recognize the ways that He comes to us throughout our lives so that we can follow Him, so that we can be His disciples.
Every baptized person is called and equipped to be a disciple. Whether we are fishermen or accountants, lawyers or ranchers, or any other profession – our first priority is to follow the Lord.
It doesn’t mean that everyone will have to leave everything, though some are called to do so. It does mean that we all must be faithful to the greatest commandment; we must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.
Through the ages men and women from every walk of life, from kings to servants, have been able to be faithful disciples. We now call them saints. We are also called to sainthood. After all, only saints occupy heaven.
To be a disciple is not a casual thing; it demands a real investment, a daily commitment to prayer and a desire to overcome sin by living the sacramental life. To be a disciple is to be willing to do things outside our comfort zone because we know God will give us the grace we need to do the things we need to do. It involves learning to trust God in all things, especially the mysteries of life that we all experience.
Perhaps you think it would be too difficult to be a disciple. It’s natural for us to want to do things our way. There is evidence of that all around. We can become impatient with God; maybe He isn’t efficient enough for us. When we pray for something we want Him to answer now, or at least in a few days. If God doesn’t answer our prayers right away, we can be tempted to look for help and answers in other places like astrology, fortune tellers or so called faith healers that guarantee quick results – or in any sin.
We cannot set the conditions that will determine how and when God will answer our prayers. Monica prayed for many years for the conversion of her son Augustine. Her prayers eventually bore fruit, and she became a saint in the process.
Prayer is first of all a trusting relationship with God in which we persevere because we believe in His goodness, promises and providence. His plan has been proven to be effective. Prayer leads us into a relationship with God that influences the choices we make, and the good news is, with God every moment has the possibility of being a new beginning because of His love and mercy. God makes everything possible. We can only be good disciples with the help of His grace, which He longs to give us.
What we need on our part is desire. If we have the desire, He will guide us in the right way through His Church. It will always be a challenge and maybe it will seem to be more than we can do, but that is how we learn to trust in Him.
We will never be fulfilled until we make God our priority and allow our faith to influence the decisions we make. St. Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless O’ Lord until they rest in you.” It is when we live and share our faith that we find rest in the Lord.