God Qualifies Those Whom He Calls
Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on January 21-22, 2012 at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and St. Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
This is the trouble with Jesus: instead of heading to the synagogues, He goes to the docks to recruit His first disciples (cf. Mk. 1:16-17). It makes us wonder whether He even has a screening process for His followers. The first four whom He calls were recruited on the spot. There was no human resource department to check on these applicants for the office of apostle. He does not bother to review their resumes or to check their references. James and John have had no prior experience with itinerant preaching. They have been involved all this while in the family business, Zebedee and Sons (cf. Mk. 1:19-20; Mt. 4:21). Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist (cf. Jn. 1:35-37, 40) but with the Baptist now behind bars (cf. Mk. 6:17) that letter of recommendation does not get as much mileage as it used to. A good psychological report on Simon Peter would have given Jesus a better picture on the man whom He would later pick out to lead His chosen Twelve. These four had plenty of practice catching fish in the water but that hardly means they will have as much luck catching people on land (cf. Mk. 1:17).
They were regular guys from Galilee. None of them were card carrying members of the party of the Pharisees or belonged to the sect of the Sadducees. There were no priests in their family, no prophet anywhere in their genealogy. They were hardly qualified for the work of proclaiming the Gospel of God.
Yet, the Lord Jesus called them to leave their boats and their business behind and follow Him (cf. Mk. 1:17-18, 20). The rest of the Gospel of Mark relates how this bumbling band of disciples often never catches anyone or anything, much less a drift of Christ’s teaching. They would catch on eventually but it would take the whole three years of being with Jesus before they would get who He really is, what He is about, and what He is asking them to do.
Jesus’ recruiting plan has not changed much since that day by the seashore. He stills calls people like us to follow Him despite our track record of sin. He calls us to be His disciples, despite the fact that we are hardly qualified to proclaim the Good News. He calls us to leave everything behind despite the fact that He knows that is the last thing that we ever want to do.
We are hardly qualified to follow Him. Perhaps, that is why we should be glad that He does not call the qualified; rather, He qualifies those whom He calls.
We might start off like Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John: still wet behind the ears on the ways of the Kingdom. But, if we stick it out with Him like they did, we too will find out for ourselves that He who made fishers of men out of those fishermen (cf. Mk. 1:17) can easily make saints out of us sinners.