Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 4:12-23. Third Sunday after the Epiphany, January 22, 2023

The Gospel of Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Let us Pray: God of light and love, we have in recent weeks sung our songs announcing the birth of our Savior. We have remembered Christ’s baptism and our own. We have acknowledged the light that came into the world though Christ, and now it is time to hear Jesus’ call to follow. He calls us to follow not just when it fits our schedule, not just when it doesn’t mean giving up something else, and not just when it is safe. We offer these gifts to you as a token, knowing that to truly follow we need to let go of all that calls us in a different direction. Help us to be faithful in following. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Follow me: It can be difficult to hear God’s call. There are so many other places in our lives and world that make a lot of noise, too, in hopes that we will follow.  Our work, it seems, is to discern which of these follow me’s are from God, and which might be from places that don’t quite lead us down the same path of discipleship. To do this, we have to be open to hearing God’s call in the first place, making space in our lives, minds, and hearts to be open to the kind of change God’s call might bring to us. This is the process of discernment, and it helps us discover our purpose, the call that God issues to each of us as disciples. It is a unique call, based on the skills and gifts and passions we have, and balanced with the needs of the world it is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep needs meet, how do we recognize the kind of work God calls you to do. Believe it is the kind of work that you need most to do and that the world most needs to have done. The disciples were working as fisherman, but when they received the call, they enthusiastically followed. And Jesus gave them a new purpose:  to fish for people. He took the skills they presumably already had – fishing – and used their abilities and skills to help them learn how to be disciples. I believe God’s call works in many of the same ways today. God nurtures in us the talents, gifts, and interests that we have, and helps us find ways to use them to be a part of what God is doing in the world. These often become identified as spiritual gifts and range from beautiful singing voices and compassionate hearts to the ability to organize and understand numbers. All of these are needed for the work of Christ’s kingdom, so therefore, all of us are called. We just need to know how to discern what that means for us. We need to discern what God is doing in the world and become a part of it. How do we do this? We listen, observe, and understand the needs of the world around us. If we listen carefully above the noise in so many other places in our lives, we might hear God providing us the call. Jesus wants us to hear, He wants us to fish for people, too. That means that Jesus wants us to tell others about what He has done for us and what He wants to do for them. Fishing for people is a lot like fishing for fish. We need to be properly equipped. We need to know what the Bible teaches and learn how to share it with others. we need to go out where the people are and tell them about Jesus. And most of all we need to be patient with people. If we will do these things, we can really become fishers of people like Jesus wants us to be. If you think there is a great feeling of excitement in catching a fish, just imagine how exciting it must be to bring someone to Jesus! Are you ready to be a disciple and respond to “Follow me”?

Let us Pray:

You speak to us in many ways, through rushing wind or still small voice, in Scripture’s Word or through your Grace and we in turn find many ways, to hear the world’s insistent voice break through the silence and take your place. Forgive our sin. Help us hear your voice above the clamor of this world, recognize the difference and follow only you. Amen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: