The contrast couldn’t be greater between the election or choice of the new American president and the election and choice of the Apostles that we have heard in the Gospel. For Mr Trump it was brass bands, massed choirs, the great and good, men at arms, cheering crowds – all the signs of worldly power. For the Apostles it couldn’t be more different: humble fisherman busy at their labours, no one watching and no one listening and being summoned by a single voice calling them to join him, to who who knows what, to who knows where. There are no signs or offers of worldly power to tempt them away, these men have no secret ambition to do something great, other than to support their kith and kin. But the strange thing that we know is that their lives will shake the foundations of the world, their words and witness will change the course of world history, more than Mr Trump could do with all the money he has and with all the people at his disposal – the Apostles will speak of what “no eye has seen and no ear has heard”.
It is always difficult for me to understand why the Apostles follow Jesus in the first place – my thinking goes along these lines. If he is a stranger to them would they not be suspicious of him and certainly be cautious of going with him? If, on the other hand, he is already known to them as a renowned preacher, perhaps they might have admired him, but they would certainly have needed more information before dropping their nets and following him. If he has been pointed out as the one by John the Baptist maybe that would have made them curious, but would it have been enough to drop their nets, leave their livelihood, abandon their families and simply follow him to who knows where?
So what is it that makes them leave their nets, their livelihood, their families, the security of their lives? Is it the sound of his voice? The same voice that will calm the seas, the same voice that will heal the sick, the same voice that will teach and preach. Is there something in his presence? The Gospels tell us that crowds often were amazed, speechless, dumfounded at him. Is it something about the way he looks at them? The Gospel tells us that he could tell what was in a person, he could see into their soul. What is it? Is this it?
We are left wondering what would make men like these fisherman obey such a wild command. They are no pushovers, they are tough hard-headed men who know the world and wouldn’t be carried off by a whim. They know the price of fish, how to drive a hard bargain, they have known good times and bad and are not going to throw it all up in the air for nothing. We can imagine in a deeply religious society there were many good preachers, many holy men – what is it about this one that makes them do such a rash thing?
What would make them do such an impetuous thing, such a dangerous thing and such a seemingly foolish thing?
If they harbour some ambition that this will bring them prestige, allow them to have their hands on the levers of power then they are soon stripped of that. Jesus takes them to the villages and towns and positions himself among the marginal, with the rural peasants not the urban wealthy, with the ruled not the rulers, with the powerless and exploited not the powerful. This is a different road from what Mr Trump takes, these are different people he mixes with than he does and it is certainly a different language than he uses than Mr Trump uses .
So it begins from Galilee through to the cross. Winding through the towns and villages, listening and watching. At times it seems that they are no help to him and often an encumbrance, they get in the way. They seem not to understand a word he says.
But in the end Jesus knows exactly what they will be – they will witness to him, that is exactly the reason why he chooses them. They will tell others what they have seen and heard and what they have experienced. And Jesus knows exactly what is in them, their strength and endurance, their courage and resolve. They will do what he wishes and they will not fail him.
In the end it is the same for each of us. Each of us are called by the Lord. We might think that it is because we are in a family that have been brought up with Christian faith, its as if we have fallen into it, that we had no choice. No, every Christian is called mysteriously to the life, called and chosen, by God’s providence and care. Every Christian watches and listens like those Apostles and mirrors to others what they have come to know, the friendship and the love and the grace of Jesus in our lives.
We all of us have our vocation in life, treasure it, think about it always, ponder what it means, know that you despite all your shortcomings have somehow been called, you have been picked and set aside to know these things “which no eye has seen and no ear has heard” . We all have our mission in life to stand up for him that we believe in, to witness to it. He has chosen us to be his witnesses in this age and time, in the same way that he chose the apostles who were casting the nets on the sea and washing them by the sea shore.