Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 30, 2016 — “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle
Lectionary: 684

St Andrew the Apostle by El Greco, circa 1610

Reading 1 ROM 10:9-18

Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
The Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone to preach?
And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
But not everyone has heeded the good news;
for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?
Thus faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; forTheir voice has gone forth to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (10) The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R. (John 6:63) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Alleluia MT 4:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come after me, says the Lord,
and I will make you fishers of men.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.

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Commentary on Matthew 8:5-11 From Living Space

The Gospel describes an unexpected level of faith in a Gentile which even amazes Jesus: “When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him: ‘In no one in Israel have I found such faith… I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven’.”

The Kingdom which Jesus comes to proclaim is for all peoples everywhere. It is the central message of Christmas. This is not just a time for celebration and for parties. The birth of the Prince of Peace in the poverty of the stable is a challenge to us to carry on his work among God’s children everywhere. Jesus has not failed; it is we who have done so little to carry on what he began. Advent is a time for us to reflect on the real meaning of God coming to live and work among us and on the responsibility of his followers to carry on the work of making the Kingdom a reality for all.

Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/f1130bg/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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30 NOVEMBER 2016, Wednesday, St Andrew, Apostle
NEW EVANGELIZATION DEMANDS CONVICTED PREACHERS OF GOOD NEWS
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ROM 10:9-18; MT 4:18-22  ]Many are seeking truth and meaning in life.   Of course, this truth is found in Jesus Christ. St Paul, citing scripture, also reiterates that “those who believe in me will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”   Only Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life can give the world ultimate meaning.  The responsorial psalm declares, “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.”

But St Paul also said that “they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him.”  If many are living ignorant lives in the world, we cannot put the blame squarely on their shoulders alone.  As it is said, there is no point bemoaning the darkness in the world when we could have lighted a candle.   So too, St Paul argues the necessity of having a preacher to bring the Good News, for “they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound.”

In the light of this necessity, the gospel speaks of the call of the apostles.  Thus on the feast of the Apostle Andrew, we are all reminded of our call to proclaim the gospel.  This call is given to all Christians by virtue of our baptism.  The calling of the disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John in the gospel is a prototype of our own calling.  We are called to be fishers of men and to follow Jesus.  What is significant in their response is that they obeyed without any delay or question.  The command of Jesus to follow Him was received as a command from God Himself, of which our answer must be immediate, decisive and total.  Indeed, that was how the evangelist presented their reaction to Jesus’ command.  Although busy with their own work, fishing and mending their nets, when called, “at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.”   Such an immediate response not only indicates the total obedience of the disciples to the Word of God but also that they recognized the urgency of sharing the Good News.  We too must also respond with the same decisiveness and urgency in our desire to proclaim the Good News to others.

All of us are called in different ways and at different times, regardless of who we are, to share in the mission of Jesus.  We are however called in a special way and have responded to share in the ministry of Jesus.   But why is it that our ministry appears to be ineffective?   Despite all that we have done, yet we do not see much conversion in our Catholics or converts to our faith.  The number of catechumens we have each year is insignificant compared to the large membership we have in our Catholic churches.  Also we do not see more and more Catholics being involved in the life of the Church and their community.

What could be the reason? This is the question posed by St Paul and Isaiah.  “Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ.  Let me put this question; is it possible that they did not hear?  Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and the message to the ends of the world.”  St Paul posits that if the gospel has been preached but yet not accepted it was primarily due to pride and disobedience.

But this is only one of the reasons.  Before we lay all the blame on them and exonerate ourselves, we must examine ourselves.  Perhaps, we ourselves are lacking the zeal and fire of mission in us.  This is what the lineamenta on the New Evangelization is all about.  We must examine ourselves to see whether we have faith in Christ.

The truth is that many of us lack a personal conviction in Jesus as our Lord and savior.  We only have intellectual knowledge of Him.  We preach the gospel by using human wisdom and philosophy rather than by the power of God and the Holy Spirit.  St Paul wrote, “Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with any brilliance of oratory or wise argument to announce to you the mystery of God. I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have while I was with you was knowledge of Jesus, and of him as the crucified Christ. I came among you in weakness, in fear and great trembling and what I spoke and proclaimed was not meant to convince by philosophical argument, but to demonstrate the convincing power of the Spirit, so that your faith should depend not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:1-5)

Can we really say that we believe in our hearts that Jesus is raised from the dead?  If our faith in Christ’s resurrection is mere intellectual knowledge, we will lack the power to confess that Jesus is Lord both on our lips and in our lives.  St Paul says, “If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved.”

Indeed, sharing the good news means more than mere proclamation of the Word or of what Jesus has done for us.  We need to incarnate the Good News in our lives by our own personal conversion in demonstrating a life that is lived in charity, in words and deeds, in forgiveness and compassion, in selfless service and collaboration, in tolerance and acceptance, in honesty and integrity, in truth and in love.  Without a genuine concern and love for those whom we live with, without a change of heart, no amount of testimony is going to convince anyone, especially our loved ones who know us so well and who can be quite skeptical about our conversion experience.

That is why we need to strengthen our personal relationship with the Lord.  In John’s gospel, it was Andrew who personally discovered Jesus as the Messiah first and then brought Peter to Jesus to discover for themselves.  (cf Jn 2:40-42)  Peter was docile and ready to learn.  He took the invitation and went to see Jesus who said, “Come and See.”  Andrew was also the one who introduced the Gentiles to Jesus too.   We read in the gospel of John that some Greeks came to Philip to request to see Jesus.  Philip then went and told Andrew and together they went to tell Jesus.  Indeed, many people are asking the same question, “We wish to see Jesus.” (Jn 12:21)

Hence, we must learn from Andrew and discover Jesus for ourselves so that we can with conviction bring others to Jesus.  We must follow what Andrew did.  He did not “preach” about Jesus.  Rather, he simply brought Peter to Jesus to experience for himself what he had experienced when he stayed with Jesus earlier.  In order to be effective messengers of the Good News we as individuals must seek the Good News ourselves before we can become messengers.  This is what the New Evangelization is asking of us.  We must appropriate for ourselves the Good News in our hearts as St Paul said, “If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”  We must submit in obedience like those apostles who responded immediately to the command from Jesus to follow Him.  Believing the Word requires obedience of the heart.  We only need to believe from the heart in order to be saved and be transformed. This is what St Paul writes, “By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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St. Andrew the Apostle: 11 things to know and share

By Jimmy Akin

Monday is the feast of St. Andrew. Here are 11 things to know and share . . .

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St. Andrew was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, but many people know little about him.
The feast of St. Andrew is November 30th.
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1) Who was St. Andrew?

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He was the brother of St. Peter, who was also known as Simon bar-Jonah.
He and Andrew shared the same father, so the latter would have been known as Andrew bar-Jonah.

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Andrew is regularly mentioned after Simon Peter, which suggests that he was Peter’s younger brother.

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Like his brother Peter, and their partners James and John, Andrew was initially a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.

2) What is significant about his name?

The name Andrew (Greek, Andreas) is related to the Greek word for “man” (Aner, or, in the genitive, Andros). It originally meant something like “Manly,” expressing the parents’ hopes for their baby boy.

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It is interesting that Andrew’s name is of Greek origin, not Aramaic. Pope Benedict XVI commented:

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The first striking characteristic of Andrew is his name: It is not Hebrew, as might have been expected, but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored. We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present [General Audience, June 14, 2006].

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The fact that their father—Jonah (or Jonas)—gave his elder son (Simon) an Aramaic name and his younger son (Andrew) a Greek name reflects the mixed Jewish-Gentile environment of Galilee.

3) How close was Andrew to Jesus?

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In the synoptic Gospels and Acts, the twelve apostles are always listed in three group of four individuals. The first of these groups indicates those who were the closest to Jesus. It includes the two pairs of brothers: (1) Peter and Andrew, the sons of Jonah, and (2) James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

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Andrew was thus one of the four disciples closest to Jesus, but he seems to have been the least close of the four.
This is reflected in the fact that, several times, Peter, James, and John seem to have privileged access to Jesus, while Andrew is not present.

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For example, Peter, James, and John were those present for the Transfiguration, but Andrew was not present. They were the closest three, while Andrew was a distant fourth.
This is ironic.

4) Why is it ironic that Andrew would be more distant?

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Because he was one of the first followers of Jesus. In fact, he discovered Jesus before his brother Peter did.

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Indeed, he was one of the two initial disciples of John the Baptist who encountered Jesus at the beginning of John’s Gospel.

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Because he followed Jesus before St. Peter and the others, he is called the Protoklete or “First Called” apostle.

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Pope Benedict comments:

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He was truly a man of faith and hope; and one day he heard John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as: “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1: 36); so he was stirred, and with another unnamed disciple followed Jesus, the one whom John had called “the Lamb of God”. The Evangelist says that “they saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day…” (Jn 1: 37-39).

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Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus. The account continues with one important annotation: “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (Jn 1: 40-43), straightaway showing an unusual apostolic spirit.

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Andrew, then, was the first of the Apostles to be called to follow Jesus. Exactly for this reason the liturgy of the Byzantine Church honours him with the nickname: “Protokletos” [protoclete], which means, precisely, “the first called”.

5) What do the Gospels reveal to us about St. Andrew?

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There are three notable incidents. The first occurs when Jesus performs the multiplication of loaves. Pope Benedict notes:

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The Gospel traditions mention Andrew’s name in particular on another three occasions that tell us something more about this man. The first is that of the multiplication of the loaves in Galilee. On that occasion, it was Andrew who pointed out to Jesus the presence of a young boy who had with him five barley loaves and two fish: not much, he remarked, for the multitudes who had gathered in that place (cf. Jn 6: 8-9).

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In this case, it is worth highlighting Andrew’s realism. He noticed the boy, that is, he had already asked the question: “but what good is that for so many?” (ibid.), and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for the multitude of people who had come to hear him.

6) When else does Andrew come to the forefront?

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A second instance is when he and the other core disciples question Jesus about his statement that the beautiful stones of the temple will be torn down.
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Pope Benedict notes:

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The second occasion was at Jerusalem. As he left the city, a disciple drew Jesus’ attention to the sight of the massive walls that supported the Temple. The Teacher’s response was surprising: he said that of those walls not one stone would be left upon another. Then Andrew, together with Peter, James and John, questioned him: “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” (Mk 13: 1-4).
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In answer to this question Jesus gave an important discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and on the end of the world, in which he asked his disciples to be wise in interpreting the signs of the times and to be constantly on their guard.

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From this event we can deduce that we should not be afraid to ask Jesus questions but at the same time that we must be ready to accept even the surprising and difficult teachings that he offers us.

7) Is there a third instance in which the Gospels reveal St. Andrew’s importance?

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In a third instance, St. Andrew—with his Greek name—serves as a bridge between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus. Pope Benedict explains:

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Lastly, a third initiative of Andrew is recorded in the Gospels: the scene is still Jerusalem, shortly before the Passion. For the Feast of the Passover, John recounts, some Greeks had come to the city, probably proselytes or God-fearing men who had come up to worship the God of Israel at the Passover Feast. Andrew and Philip, the two Apostles with Greek names, served as interpreters and mediators of this small group of Greeks with Jesus.

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The Lord’s answer to their question – as so often in John’s Gospel – appears enigmatic, but precisely in this way proves full of meaning. Jesus said to the two disciples and, through them, to the Greek world: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. I solemnly assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (12: 23-24).

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Jesus wants to say: Yes, my meeting with the Greeks will take place, but not as a simple, brief conversation between myself and a few others, motivated above all by curiosity. The hour of my glorification will come with my death, which can be compared with the falling into the earth of a grain of wheat. My death on the Cross will bring forth great fruitfulness: in the Resurrection the “dead grain of wheat” – a symbol of myself crucified – will become the bread of life for the world; it will be a light for the peoples and cultures.

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Yes, the encounter with the Greek soul, with the Greek world, will be achieved in that profundity to which the grain of wheat refers, which attracts to itself the forces of heaven and earth and becomes bread.

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In other words, Jesus was prophesying about the Church of the Greeks, the Church of the pagans, the Church of the world, as a fruit of his Pasch.

9) What happened to Andrew in later years?
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Pope Benedict noted:

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Some very ancient traditions not only see Andrew, who communicated these words to the Greeks, as the interpreter of some Greeks at the meeting with Jesus recalled here, but consider him the Apostle to the Greeks in the years subsequent to Pentecost. They enable us to know that for the rest of his life he was the preacher and interpreter of Jesus for the Greek world.

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Peter, his brother, traveled from Jerusalem through Antioch and reached Rome to exercise his universal mission; Andrew, instead, was the Apostle of the Greek world. So it is that in life and in death they appear as true brothers — a brotherhood that is symbolically expressed in the special reciprocal relations of the See of Rome and of Constantinople, which are truly Sister Churches.

10) How has the sisterhood of Rome and Constantinople manifested?

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Pope Benedict noted:

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To emphasize this relationship, my Predecessor Pope Paul VI, in 1964, returned the important relic of St Andrew, which until then had been kept in the Vatican Basilica, to the Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of the city of Patras in Greece, where tradition has it that the Apostle was crucified.

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A more recent example occurred when the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, visited Pope Francis on the occasion of his election to the pontificate.
As the successor of St. Peter, Francis noted the role of Patriarch Bartholomew as the successor of St. Andrew and referred to him as “my brother, Andrew,” casting the two of them in the roles of the original brother apostles.

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He stated:

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Before all else, I express my heartfelt thanks for what my brother Andrew [Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I] has said to us. Many thanks! Many thanks!

11) How did St. Andrew die?

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Pope Benedict noted:

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A later tradition, as has been mentioned, tells of Andrew’s death at Patras [in Greece], where he too suffered the torture of crucifixion.

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At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus.

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In his case it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross, which has thus come to be known as “St Andrew’s cross”.

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This is what the Apostle is claimed to have said on that occasion, according to an ancient story (which dates back to the beginning of the sixth century), entitled The Passion of Andrew:

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“Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.

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“Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you…. O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord’s limbs!… Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, hail indeed!”.

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Here, as can be seen, is a very profound Christian spirituality. It does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell into the earth.

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Here we have a very important lesson to learn: Our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ, if a reflection of his light illuminates them.

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Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/st.-andrew-the-apostle-11-things-to-know-and-share/#ixzz3ssxTS0x7

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Matthew 4:18-22 – What do we sign up for if we decide to follow Jesus?

 What have you just done? What have you just signed up for?

When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, what are they signing up for? Many of us here already follow Jesus: What have we signed up for?

The Bible reading, Matthew 4:18-22, tells part of the story of the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He’s barely started out. In fact, all that’s happened this far in the story is that Jesus has arrived on the scene, and we’ve heard him a one sentence summary of his teaching. That was in verse 17:“From that tim, Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

That’s a summary of what Jesus taught. Then we get a summary of the response Jesus wanted from those who wished to sign up. So if we want to know what someone signs up for when they become a follower of Jesus, this is a pretty good place to look, because Matthew reduces it down to its bare essentials for us.

What happens in this story is that Jesus calls his first 4 disciples, and they sign on the dotted line and become his followers. We have to be a little careful if we’re going to learn from them what it means for us to follow Jesus. That’s because we aren’t them! Matthew does intend this little story to model what a response to Jesus looks like, so we’re not totally off-beam, but we mustn’t forget that these 4 were part of Jesus’ inner circle of 12, and they were literally going to follow him around for 3 years.

So what does someone sign up for when they decide to become a Christian?

3 things from this passage.

Follow Jesus

The first is obvious, but needs to be said: They sign up to follow Jesus. Follow Jesus.

Verse 19: And he said to them, “Follow me!” Verse 20: The left their nets and followed him. Verse 23: They left the boat and their father and followed him.

These 4 literally followed him. They went where he went.

We can’t do that, because Jesus doesn’t live on the earth anymore.

But what they were doing by following him was becoming his disciples.

We have a word for disciple today – it’s the word apprentice. They became Jesus’ apprentices. They signed up for an apprenticeship with Jesus.

That’s to say: They watched how he lived. They listened to what he said. They wanted to learn how to answer the question: What would he want me to do? How do I live like him? What would Jesus do – if he were me? If Jesus had my family, my job, my home, my illness – what would he do?

That’s what it looks like for us to follow Jesus. We follow him. We sign up for an apprenticeship with Jesus. We look at his teaching, we look at his life, we read the rest of the Bible – all of which Jesus endorsed – and we ask: What would Jesus want me to do?

First Place

The second thing involved when someone signs up to follow Jesus is that he takes first place. First place.

Did you notice that when Matthew tells us these fishermen followed Jesus, he stresses what they left behind.

Verse 20: Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Verse 22: Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. To follow Jesus they had to leave behind their nets, their boat, their father.

Their nets and boat were their livelihood. Their father was the head of their family.

Jesus had to become more important for them than their family. More important for them than their job.

Now this is where we need to remember that we aren’t them. Jesus was calling them, quite literally, to follow him wherever he went. That meant they had to hand in their notice and they had to leave their extended family behind.

We’re not in their position. In fact, it would be wrong for most of us to leave our families or to resign from our jobs. Jesus explains later in Matthew that we must not use following God as an excuse to avoid caring for our families. The rest of the New Testament is clear that we need to work if we can, so that we can provide for ourselves and have something left over for those in need.

But the point remains, does it not? Jesus calls us today to make our allegiance to him higher than our family and our work.

This is really hard for us to hear today. Actually, that’s nothing new – this has always been hard to take on board. This takes the call to do an apprenticeship with Jesus to the next level. Not only do we start to ask: What would Jesus want me to do? But that question becomes more important than asking what our family might demand or our job might demand. Jesus takes first place.

Now, those questions don’t always clash. One of the things that Jesus wants us to do is to love our families and to work hard at our jobs. But if it ever does clash, Jesus calls us to be clear where our highest allegiance is.

When I was at school, a friend of mine in the year above me decided to become a Christian in his last week at school. He was 18. The thing was, he boarded at the school, but lived in Zambia. His parents were zealous Hindus, which is what he had been. He did not know how his relationship with his parents would survive when he broke the news to them he now followed Jesus instead. What clinched it for him was looking at the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. He decided Jesus really did rise from the dead, and that meant Jesus should have first place in his life.

I never did find out how his parents reacted. We lost touch. Until a few years back, when I learnt that he’s been working in India since 2005 – initially in social development and now with children.

Follow Jesus. First place

Fish for People

Third, fish for people. Fish for people.

These 4 were fishermen. Jesus calls them to be fishers of men. In this day and age, we’d say that they were to be fishers of people, not fishers of men, but the pun with fishermen doesn’t quite work.

What did Jesus mean? Well, the rest of Matthew makes clear that they were to recruit others to follow Jesus to.

That is part of what it entails to be a follower of Jesus. Being a recruiter of others.

In England, we have relative freedom to be practicing Christians. In many countries that is not so, as Christians are imprisoned, have their property confiscated, and are even executed. The fact is that many Christians in such countries could escape such difficulty if Jesus had never said this. If those Christians were able to practice their faith in a private way, if Jesus had not said that recruiting other followers for him was part of signing up, life would be much easier.

Even in this country, many people are very happy for us to be Christians as long as we keep it to ourselves. Jesus calls us to be fishers of people. He’s not calling us to do this in any particular way. He’s not saying we have to wear a sandwich board on Oxford Street or visit Speakers’ Corner. He is saying that the good news he came to bring is too good to keep to ourselves.

Why would we do this?

You might think that sounds insane. Follow Jesus. First place. Fish for people.

Why would anyone sign up for this?

Well they’d do it because of Jesus’ authority, and because of Jesus’ goodness.

Authority

Take his authority first. We sign up to follow him because he tells us to.

Jesus may have known these fishermen before his moment. That’s certainly what John’s gospel implies. Matthew chose not to tell us about that. Instead, he pictures Zebedee left in the boat in a way that gives the impression this was all very sudden. Spur of the moment.

The tone of his command is not an invitation. He doesn’t say: If you like, if you’d be ever so kind, would you mind possibly following me? It’s a straight command. He presumes the right to tell these men how to live. Follow me, he says, and they do.

And the rest of Matthew’s gospel bears out the fact that this is not just bluster. He really does have that kind of authority. Following Jesus is not optional.

Goodness

But the other reason why we’d do this is because of his goodness.

We’re naturally suspicious of people with this kind of authority, who demand this level of allegiance. With good reason.

We can all think of political leaders who have had absolute power and have asked unquestioning obedience form their followers. You must put me above your family. You must recruit others. Think of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. We’re right to be suspicious.

But we don’t need to be suspicious of Jesus. He calls us to follow him in this way, in response to what he came to do. We read a summary of that earlier in verse 17: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When we looked at that a few weeks ago, we said that there is so much that is wrong and sad with this world, but that Jesus is the one God sent into this world to put things right. We can be part of that now, by following him. Jesus is no tyrant. He’s the opposite. He’s a ruler who came for our good.

What’s more, there’s nothing here that Jesus asks us to do for him that he hasn’t already done for us. God is his Father. Yet fixing our broken world was more important to him than staying with his family. He came fishing for us. He reached out to us, and drew us to follow him. Is it too much to ask that we might put him above our families, and share this good news with those around us?

Conclusion

So what have we let ourselves in for?

What have Samuel and Harrison just been signed up for?

What might we let ourselves in for if we decide to follow Jesus.

Well: Jesus is the one who carries all the authority to tell us what to do. He’s the one God sent into our world for our good. He calls us to follow him, but let him take first place, to fish for others.

https://www.oakleys.org.uk/sermons/matthew_04_18-22

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 30, 2016 — “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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