Jesus calls the disciples, and us, to consider what vocation means for our lives and the ways that God calls us.
Vicar Mollie Hamre
3rd Sunday after Epiphany, Year A
Texts: Matthew 4:12-23
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
You have probably been asked this question at some point when you were younger. You might have said that you want to be a doctor, a teacher, a professional athlete, or anything else you could have imagined. In the case of my four year old niece, she excitedly told us she was going to be a cooking game show host. But all of these answers have a commonality: you can only pick one thing.
At such a young age we are put into a mindset of thinking we can only be one thing. That we can only do one thing. And what is even more strange is we stop asking that question after a certain age. For Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John this is a question they learn that we are to ask as we seek out where God continues to call us.
Our Gospel starts with Jesus receiving news of John the Baptist being arrested.
In reaction, Jesus flees to Galilee and calls Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be his disciples. Jesus approaches them in their day to day work and calls them directly: “Follow me.” We do not find the group of four in the synagogue or somewhere one might expect Jesus to be recruiting, but instead appearing to them in their normal jobs–their normal lives. Jesus calls them to follow, carrying their experiences and knowledge with them in saying: “Come! I will make you fish for people.”
Fishing is a language they understand, it’s their background–but being disciples? Not so much. Yet, the scripture says that they immediately left their boats and followed him. Strangely enough, a question about this drastic life change they are about to experience, never seems to pass through their minds.
Such a reaction can both leave one in awe as well as skeptical.
What about their vocation as fishermen? What about all that they were leaving behind? Matthew’s version of calling the disciples feels sudden and there is a reason for it. Jesus’s call is direct, urgent, and encompassing. This is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, we find him proclaiming that the reign of God has come near, there is no reason to beat around the bush: Jesus knows it is time to get to work.
But also notice that in calling the four Jesus does not ask them to stop being fishermen or to boost their resumes. Instead Jesus calls them as they are. This call story is not just about dropping one’s nets to jump to another career, it is about exploration, growth, and examining one’s call. The disciples were not only fishermen, they were students, teachers, friends, community, and so much more. All of these aspects of their lives were within the call to discipleship and part of their vocation. We hear this as Jesus goes throughout Galilee doing multiple things: teaching, proclaiming, and healing everywhere.
As the Gospel continues and Jesus moves between communities, we see that these fishermen disciples realize that their calling means one’s occupation as well as their relationships, their context, and the way that they experience the world.
What would it mean for our own lives if we lived them out in the same way?
When we enter into the waters of Baptism we are told that we walk with one another holding the “spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy.” That is how each and every one of you are called. You would not only think about this while at your occupation, but in all aspects of your life.
This is not me saying you need to take on more, but asking what if we thought about vocation and calls to discipleship in a way that was encompassing. That your vocation does not drop and picks up as something completely new, but shifts as we grow. That the way you earn money is a vocation as well as your vocation in parenting. Or the vocation of being a student, being a mentor, being a friend.
Our Triune God calls out to you to follow.
To live out your vocational calling in your jobs, families, friendships, and everything in between. Teaching one another about love. Proclaiming where you see God within one another. Working as a community and individuals to bring healing and mending places within each other. Peace, justice, and caring for the neighbor are not calls that are saved for people who need to meet the discipleship benchmark. But one that we are all called to as Children of God.
So I ask again, what do you want to be when you grow up?
What ways do you see God in your life? Where do you feel God calling, “come! Follow me!,” I will guide you in loving your neighbor, connecting with someone who needs a friend, or caring for one another. We know from the journeys and stories of the disciples that even when four of them were called in the same way, their call to discipleship took so many different forms that were all important as the reign of God comes near. And even when we do not know what that vocation looks like or struggle to hear God, we know that God calls us to life. Life in community, life that loves one another, and life even after our time is done here.
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.