'Yes' or 'No' - Which Will it Be? by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
The Gospel makes it all seem so quick and easy: Jesus walks along the Sea of Galilee; he calls Andrew, Peter, James and John to follow him; they leave behind their life as fishermen to become "fishers of men."
As simple as it sounds, this little scene has some profound truths to reveal about the nature of vocations.
First, every vocation is a two-way street: God calls, we respond. These first apostles did not simply take it upon themselves to become "fishers of men." It is Our Lord who calls them to a new life, a new mission. It is Our Lord who calls them to leave behind the known and familiar to embrace the unknown and unfamiliar. Clearly there was something about Jesus that attracted these men enough to give up their livelihoods, to radically change their lives. Perhaps it was the firm conviction that here was a man sent by God and worth listening to. There certainly had to be a degree of trust. A vocation begins with the firm belief that God has a plan for me. What He desires I desire because I trust his goodness and authority and know that such a union of wills is a key to holiness. We move forward in the firm belief that what God calls me to do He will strengthen me to accomplish.
Second, Our Lord calls two sets of brothers to be the first apostles. Is it not our firm belief that the seedbed of every vocation is the family? Marriage preparation begins long before an engaged couple meets with a priest for the first time. Lessons in communication, showing affection, sharing, reconciliation and sacrifice are first learned in the family among parents and siblings. Vocations to priesthood and religious life are encouraged and nurtured by family, where the faith is first handed down.
Third, every vocation ought to be seen as a path to holiness, a path to sainthood. We know the story of the apostles did not end on the day they were called and they said "yes." These guys had a lot more to learn about being fishers of men, of being shepherds with the true mind and heart of Christ. The mother of James and John would be worried about her children's place in the kingdom, sparking a lesson from Jesus on humility and service.
Peter would learn a lesson about forgiving one's brother seven times 70 times. The call to apostleship was not simply a change in career, it was a change of life. These men would never be the same.
Every vocation demands constant fidelity and commitment. Am I ready to give my all to being a Christian mother and father? Am I ready to give my all to being a holy priest or religious? Am I ready to do and give all that the Lord may ask of me in my vocation, trusting that he will strengthen me to do it?
The Lord gives a simple command: "Follow me." Nothing will profoundly affect our lives more than our simple "yes" or "no."
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