Strength in numbers

In the past two weeks or so I attended the baptism of my older daughter’s nephew (the son of her husband’s brother), for whom she is the godmother; a birthday party for my 29-year-old son; a wake for the 56-year-old brother of my son’s father-in-law; and a memorial service for the 89-year-old mother of my boss.

At each occasion family and friends gathered to share in the appropriate joys and sorrows. We are all drawn to such events, either by invitation, obligation, or love.

The Gospel reading from two Sundays ago, the third in ordinary time (for year A), tells how Jesus recruits his first disciples, fishermen named Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus tells them.

As author Alice Camille points out, “he does not promise the kingdom or ask them to change their hearts. He just asks them to come away from what they are doing, and to follow.” And they do — right then and there.

What kind of magnetism must one possess to have this kind of effect on people?

Isaiah proclaims, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” This is a carryover of the Christmas message. And, indeed, Jesus is the Light of the World. But his is not a harsh light, says John Foley, SJ. Like the soft glow of a candle, Jesus’ kindly light “pardons our imperfections and gives us a holy glow.”

Who wouldn’t want to follow that?

His disciples are “moved by his love and his desire that they be with him as his companions,” says “They leave everything in order to enter into his vision of them.” Together. Because, says Fr. Robert Rosser, “Following Jesus means joining a group of fellow disciples.”

Likewise, when life begins, is celebrated, or ends, we are called together to be close to the person who has meaning for us. And, like the disciples, our response to be present to them (or their memory) tends to be immediate.

God bless us, every one.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

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