Barekmor! Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Here we have the account of the start of our Saviour’s earthly ministry. St John the Forerunner has been arrested and the last of the Law has been completed with Christ’s baptism. In His baptism He fulfilled all righteousness. He was the 1st human to do so. Remember, the law was not given to save but to discipline, shape their character, and make them humble.
Here persecution has begun again, just as all the prophets have been persecuted. We, as humans, don’t want to hear that righteousness is required.
Our Lord picks up the very same call as St. John the Forerunner, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. The first words of the New Covenant are to put off the flesh and look to spiritual things. It is not just a matter of stopping to sin, but rather a turning away from earthly things as well. Wealth, power and even family should have no attraction for we know we will receive 100 fold more in the age to come – St Mark 10:30
“shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
St John bore witness of Jesus saying, “This is the Lamb of God”. The voice from Heaven also bore witness. Jesus didn’t start any ministry until John’s was completed. There was no competition and no confusion, it was simply a continuance of the ministry. Furthermore, Jesus did not bare witness of Himself, which they accused Him of in any case – St John 8:13. Right after forgiving the women caught in adultery, He spoke again to the people. Saying He was the light of the world.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
The Lord goes to the land of the Gentiles which is across the Jordan. Those who were the first to see the “Great Light” were not the Jews. Salvation comes by the Jews, but as we know, they refused. We see here it was a battle from the very beginning.
Furthermore, we know that these two (Zebulun and Naphtali) were the first to go into captivity. So it is fitting that they are the first to receive the Good News. Quite a bit is written about both Zebulun and Naphtali. One of the Father’s says,
“This was the light about which the just man Simeon in the Gospel declared, “A light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.”1
Just as in the prophets; David, Isaiah, Daniel, the Lord withdrew because He knows the hearts of men and all situations. He is in complete control of all circumstances and He was choosing the time of His suffering. Furthermore, He taught us here, that we are not to seek out troubles, but be wise in all things.
He could have easily rearranged the days, but He did not for our sakes. For when His time would come, He did not shrink back. Here we learn to stand and to turn away as needed for the sake of the Kingdom, not for the sake of our own safety.
Verses 20 & 22 … Let’s understand a bit more about this …
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
The very first thing He does is to call the Apostles, they must be witnesses of all that He intends to do. Well, they weren’t Apostles yet, but He knew that they would be.
They left everything, although they did not have huge fortunes, but it was all they had hopes for in this life. Poor fisherman don’t have much, but they turned away from everything they did have. We also will leave everything behind, if we follow our Lord. This is what every Christian is called to, not just missionaries & clergy.
Whatever we try to hold on to will become a snare and hindrance. We mustn’t covet what we give up, nor what others have, that’s their own problem. Partaking of true abandonment is what our Saviour calls us to. How much we give up isn’t the issue, the Lord is looking at the heart. We remember the judgement on Ananias…how much we hold back becomes our trouble.Upon being called by Jesus, the disciples left their nets immediately.
For Christ seeks this kind of obedience from us, such that we delay not even for a moment, though something absolutely most necessary should fervently press in on us.
~ St. John Chrysostom2
Both times it says, “Immediately”…they didn’t have to weigh the possibilities or the cost of leaving all behind. There was no questions from them about where, or what they were going to do. Nothing about, but I wonder what my dad thinks because he was right there with them. This is a pattern throughout the Church and the Bible; Abraham, Moses, Elisha and so on and so forth.
We have a similar call as we follow. Once the decision is made to obey, then it gets tough. We find out the decision was the easy part. Every morning and night through living by the grace of God is how we make it. Through actively thanking God for grace for the day and trusting Him with our life through the night
In the lesson today we learn a three-fold process of intentionally following our Saviour through acts of abandonment of our own will, or ways.
Another of the Fathers says,
“He chose illiterate, unskilled and untutored fishermen, that God’s grace might be all the more apparent.”
Just like you and I. None of us can claim anything of ourselves. He picked us out of the myriads of smarter more capable people. Therefore, whatever happens will be a glory to him.
St John 15:8 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”
What fruit? – here’s a few, there are many more…
The peaceable fruit of righteousness – Heb 12:11
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
This is through the discipline of God, He is refining our earthly lives by His hand to remove all ties to it.
Fruit of the Spirit – Gal 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, longsuffering, gentleness, faithfulness, 23 meekness temperance: against such there is no law.
None of these things will be ours, without systematically removing the things of the world from our lives. As we journey into a fuller life and understanding of the Faith, let’s avail ourselves of as much of God’s grace as we can.
Eph 4:7 & similar in Rom 12:3
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ”
What is grace? It is the ability from God to do what He has asked. It is the mystery available that is the life of God in you through receiving His supernatural power.
Here are three ways of receiving grace among many others.
We experience the life of God or Theosis, by reducing our earthly connections and increasingly relying on the grace of God. The more we rely on Him, the more He makes us able.
So, I’m not asking you to make a list of items to remove from your life, but rather to do all you can to receive the grace of God. I am saying, that when the opportunity comes to choose the narrow path, you should take it, even though the cost will be high. Those of this world will not approve and will likely cause you trouble.
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We must not choose personal comfort over our eternal unity with Christ. Only you know where the Holy Spirit is highlighting the next steps for you. Please, don’t delay, the blessing that comes from obedience, far out weighs the common things of this world.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!
~ Fr. Pat
1 Thomas C. Oden and Manlio Simonetti, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament Ia (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), ?
2 Ibid, ?
Duccio, di Buoninsegna, d. 1319. Christ Calling the Apostles Peter and Andrew, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=49261 [retrieved May 5, 2020]. Original source: www.yorckproject.de.