By the time you read this … It will be Lent. But I’m not there yet.
That’s the one challenge with editing a monthly newspaper — early deadlines. At this moment you are likely experiencing Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday … but I am writing this along, with my report to Vestry, and the words of yesterdays gospel still ringing in my ears (Matthew 4:12-23).
Immediately — that’s the word that sticks with me.
Jesus had just called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him. To step away from their comfortable lives (their business, their families) — and follow him. And “immediately they left their nets and followed”.
I am left asking myself … would I have been that trusting, faithful, and passionate. Being this far removed from the actual days of Jesus physically walking among us, I would like to think so — especially given the reality that I know so much more about Jesus now than the disciples did when he first came among them. I am amazed at the faith they possessed, and how they immediately followed him. These were not people walking away from an unpleasant lifestyle, thinking “well it’s got to be better than this”. No — these were successful businessmen, smart (Peter and John wrote Greek, spoke Aramaic, and knew Hebrew), and had full lives.
Still, when they met Jesus, they immediately followed him. And their lives were changed. None of this is new … anyone who encounters Jesus is changed. Jesus came into the world to change things — to reclaim the world as God’s own — to show us that it IS possible to live in a secular world and not compromise your faith in the Divine. Maybe that is why these four immediately followed. That even though they were successes in their business and personal lives, they felt the need for something more — and saw that opportunity in Jesus’ invitation.
As we enter the season of Lent, many will follow the tradition of “giving up” something for the season: It is a Lenten discipline. Others will “take up” something — a spiritual practice or new outreach. But for me, I plan to reflect some more on this particular gospel passage, and ask my self “would I walk away from it all to spend time with Jesus?” Even now I can feel my answer coming — Immediately!
The Reverend Rob Towler is the editor of the Niagara Anglican.