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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Readings for Sunday, January 22, 2012:

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Psalm: Psalm 62:6-14 (Psalm 62:5-12 NRSV)

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

I'm interested that in this Gospel (as well as other stories we've had recently, like Mary's call in Advent), people don't seem to hesitate. They don't weigh the cost of discipleship. They don't create a spreadsheet that compares the pros and the cons.

No, God beckons, and these men leave their normal lives immediately.

The story we get in today's Gospel seems like a young person's story. How hard is it to give up everything when you're young and don't really have all that much to give up? I think of the mother of Andrew and Simon Peter, who must wonder if her sons have lost their minds. I imagine her sighing, saying, "Eh, they're young. They'll come to their senses and come back to the family business--I give them 6 months of this homeless lifestyle, following this wackadoo Jesus."

I think about Jesus moving in the world today, and I wonder if we’d recognize him and if we’d drop everything to follow him. Would we think about our jobs and the current unemployment rate and the likelihood that we’d never find a full-time job again if we dropped everything? Would we think about our family obligations? Would we worry about our stuff and our mortgages and how we’d pay our bills if we just dropped everything to follow Jesus?

Would we even hear Jesus at all? Many of us wander through the world with our cell phones pasted to our ears or our fingers, careening into innocent bystanders because we’re so oblivious. What would Jesus have to do to get our attention?

Our Bible stories train us to look for burning bushes, so we ignore the still, small voice that speaks to us out of the darkness of a sleepless night: it's not God, it's indigestion. We're ready for hosts of angels, or bright stars, or wise men who let us know that there's a new savior on the scene. But if God speaks in a small whisper, can we hear over the din of our electronics?

And if we hear, can we make time? I see God as the friend who continues to invite me to lunch, the one to whom I say, “I’m super-busy this month. What’s your calendar like for next month?”

The good news is that God continues to call us anyway. No matter how many times we reject God and God's hopes for us, God comes back to see if we're interested.

God has great visions for us. But even if we can't rise to those grand plans, God will entice us with smaller parts of the larger vision. And then, years later, we look up, amazed at how our lives' trajectories have changed.

What is God calling you to do? And if you're not comfortable with the larger plan, are there smaller bits you can do right now?

Maybe you're not ready to go back to school, but you could take a class or two. Maybe you can't leave your job, but you could try something different through volunteer work. Maybe you can't solve the larger social justice issue that keeps you up at night, but you could write a letter or educate your fellow citizens.

We are all so much greater than we know. Christ came to us to show us what is possible in a human life--and so much is possible. What part in this great human drama were you born to play?

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