Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
This weekend I would like to reflect on Gospel readings from two evangelists which tell the same story with slight variations. In this Sunday’s Mass we hear from St. Matthew (4:12-17) as he describes the selection of the first four apostles: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee. All made their living by fishing. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee, He simply calls them, and they leave everything to follow Him. In the Gospel which we heard this past Friday at Mass, St. Mark tells us a somewhat different story (3:13-19). He is describing the scene when Jesus goes up the mountain and calls from among his many disciples twelve who will be His apostles. He gives us a beautiful description of the vocations of the twelve apostles. Here is what he says:
Jesus… summoned those He wanted and they came to Him. He appointed twelve, whom He also named apostles, that they might be with Him… (3:13, 14).
There are two phrases in these verses that sound so casual at first reading but are really telling and tender: “He called “those He wanted,” and He wanted them “to be with Him.” This is a touching example of what happens when God invites us to an intimate relationship with Him—which is always. It’s as if He is saying, ‘I desire you (the verb used in the Revised Standard Version), and I want you to be with Me all the time. I want you to live your life with Me and to feel at home with Me. I want you to turn to me in all your needs. And together we will show the world what it means to live a life of freedom through goodness, integrity, virtue and holiness.’
These are not words spoken only to a select few. They are the words planted in our hearts in the sacrament of Baptism as we first received our call to be followers of Jesus. Throughout our lives the memory of this invitation can become lost in the shuffle of everyday business and its challenges, but He keeps repeating them through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. At our Confirmation we hear them again, and Jesus continues to invite us to be with Him—as He walks along the shore with us, or calls us to the mountain, or joins up with us on the dusty roads of the city.
These two Gospel passages, last Friday’s and at this Sunday’s liturgy, we are given a little nudge that makes us pause and examine our lives in the light of the first invitation of God to us at Baptism. The questions we might ask ourselves are, Do I believe God really wants me? Have I made a choice to be with Him? Do I try to live my life in such a way that God is comfortable in my presence? And, am I at home in His Presence? If we can answer yes to these questions, then the two Gospel stories are about us. If not, it’s not too late.
In the depth of our weakness, we encounter the depth of the Mercy of God.