Text for reflection: Mt 4:18-22
But first, the end:
“But the angel said to the women, “...Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” -Mt 28:5-7
In the end, the disciples are sent back to the beginning. Location can be an important clue to seeking God’s will in the Bible, and I wonder if God has a lesson for us in the geography of this story that starts and ends with the disciples in Galilee.
Galilee is about 100 miles from Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified; it is no small journey by foot. What is there in Galilee that is not in Jerusalem? In short: home, work, family, life.
The disciples must now take all that they have learned back home with them. For home is where the rubber hits the road.
In Lutheran Christianity there is a strong emphasis placed on vocation, which is the place where what we do meets who we are. For Luther, to have “a vocation” was not reserved for people who worked for the church, or even church-related organizations. Instead, to have a vocation was to be baptized and to follow Christ in thought, word, and deed, every day of our lives.
500 years ago Luther was responding to a paradigm in which Christianity involved two tiers: religious people (monks, nuns, priests, bishops, etc…) and lay people (everyone else). Religious people were presumed to be living out a higher calling.
However, Luther said that’s just not true. In Christianity there is only one calling: to be baptized and follow Jesus. This is the highest vocation and the only vocation. How we live out this vocation, however, varies from person to person, place to place.
In the beginning:
Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen. In the beginning of their story following Jesus, they were simply that: catching fish to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. But then Jesus comes walking by with what must have been an immensely magnetic presence, saying, “Follow me. I will make you fish for people.”
These early disciples literally drop their nets, leave their families, and follow Jesus on his long road to Jerusalem. Along the way they are captivated by this teacher—this messiah—who heals, forgives, and calls people to follow. But the disciples’ story does not end there; after Jesus’ resurrection they are called back to the beginning. Hmmm…
Back to the beginning:
In following Jesus, the disciples learned that everything they do in their daily lives matters: from catching fish, to mending nets, to tending their families, to keeping an eye open for Jesus walking by. In short, the disciples learned that their ordinary, everyday lives are, in fact, their vocation, their calling. The disciples’ fishing became so much larger, so much more important than it ever was before.
In keeping their eyes on Jesus while fishing, each cast of the nets became a prayer, each stitch in the net became an offering, each wave on the bow became a “wave” from God. Through radical attention (a.k.a., faith), the disciples were now fishing for people; their way of fishing had been transformed into the larger purpose of Jesus’ mission.
We find our vocation in the ordinary, everyday tasks of our lives when we keep our gaze locked on Jesus. This moment is it. Jesus is walking by, calling us to follow. Step into your vocation.