3rd Sunday, "A"
H O M I L Y
When Peter and Andrew listened to Jesus' calling, left everything and followed him, they took an enormous risk. In their own time other prophets had come, claiming to be the Messiah and many had followed them, only to realize later on that they had been misled and had made a mistake. In a way, the disciples were lucky! The one they had followed was the Messiah.
And they were so happy to have made the good choice that, later on, recalling that first moment when they had heard the call, they embellished it. Actually each one of the Evangelists recounted it in a different manner, describing a different context. They all tended to give the impression that their response was an immediate and definitive one. In fact we know by the rest of the Gospel, that they hesitated considerably and did not definitively abandon their occupations until after the Resurrection. But by telescoping the events into a single episode, they stress the essential point, which is the power that God's call has, once it is recognized and accepted, to mobilize all human energies.
Jesus' approach in calling his disciples to follow him is characteristic of the new style that the young rabbi proposes to adopt. He does not gather them around him after the manner of contemporary rabbis and leaders of schools. He is not going to be a teacher sitting on his chair with fervent listeners at his feet. He will be an itinerant rabbi constantly journeying toward the poor and wanderers. He will demand from his disciples not so much willing ears or enthusiastic gaze, as the willingness to travel and to reach out, the courage to encounter the other where she or he is, at the furthest frontier. Evangelization will not be a matter of close circles, gathered within a common framework of beliefs around a common master. It will be going out of oneself to encounter the other.
It might be important to hear this message again at the end of the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians. We often tend to identify the Church with the Reign of God (or Kingdom of God). In the Gospel Jesus makes a very clear distinction. Everyone, every human being without any distinction, is called to enter the Kingdom of God. But only a limited number are called to be to the rest of the world his witnesses and the witnesses to his Message. They are the Church. And the Church's mission is not to be concerned about the size of its own membership, or to make sure that everyone join its ranks. The Church's mission is to help every human being to become part of the Kingdom of God. The Church will probably always remain small. The Kingdom of God at the service of Which She is must be universal.
If we remember this, all the internal problems of the Church take on a much more relative importance. Those conflicts, which are normal in any healthy human group existed right from the beginning. The Corinthians were saying : " I belong to Peter, or I belong to Paul; I belong to the traditionalist Church or to the progressive Church, to the charismatic renewal church or to the NCR Church. Pauls says "Stop that nonsense". Have you been baptized in the name of Paul or Peter? Is it Paul or Peter who died for you? "...
Christ is the One who died for us, and we form a Church not in order to attend to our internal problems but in order to, in spite of our various conflicts, to witness together to the same Kingdom of God.
The net in which we have to gather all humankind it not our own ranks but the mysterious net of God's merciful love for everyone whatever might be her or his color, race and beliefs.