Jesus has been baptized by John in the Jordan River; he has spent forty days in the desert, and now he is beginning his public ministry by choosing his apostles. It is important to notice that when Jesus called Peter and Andrew and then James and John, they each immediately left everything and followed him. Why would ordinary fishermen drop what they were doing to follow a stranger? Were they religious men? What sort of disposition would they need to recognize Jesus as the one they should follow?
The Gospel of John gives us an insight. It is stated that Andrew is one of the disciples of John the Baptist, and when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” as Jesus walked by Andrew heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, ’We have found the Messiah.’ Then he brought him to Jesus.” They were looking for the Messiah! They were Jews and their hopewas in the promise of the coming of the Messiah. When they met Jesus, their lives were changed forever.
What is it that you hope for? What is the real desire of your heart? Is it in any way connected to your faith in God?
In article 1817 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states: ”Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
When we were baptized, we received from God the theological gifts of faith, hope and charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have all received from God everything we need to live a life close to Him; a life that will help us to reach our potential for happiness. This life close to God depends upon our response to His gifts. If our hope is in God, He will give us the grace to recognize the different ways He comes to us throughout our lives so that we can follow Him; so that we can be His disciples.
Every baptized person is called and equipped to be a disciple. It doesn’t make any difference if we are fishermen or accountants, lawyers or ranchers or any other profession; our priority is to follow the Lord. It doesn’t mean that everyone will have to leave everything, though some are called to do so. It does mean that we all must be faithful to the greatest commandment: We must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength. Through the ages, men and women from every walk of life, from kings to servants, have been able to be faithful disciples; we now call them saints. We also are called to be saints; after all it is only saints that occupy heaven.
To be a disciple is not a casual thing; it demands a real investment- a daily commitment to prayer and a desire to overcome sin by living the sacramental life. To be a disciple is to be willing to do things outside our comfort zone because we know God will give us the grace, we need to do the things we need to do. To be a disciple is to trust God in all things, especially in the mysteries of life that we all experience.
Perhaps we may think it would be too difficult to be a disciple. It’s natural for us to want to do things our way. There is evidence of that all around us. We can become impatient with God; maybe He isn’t efficient enough for us. When we pray for something, we want Him to answer now, or at least in a few days. If God doesn’t answer our prayers right away, we can be tempted to look for help and answers in other places like astrology, fortune tellers or so- called faith healers that guarantee quick results. We cannot set the conditions that will determine how and when God will answer our prayer. Monica prayed for many years for the conversion of her son Augustine, which eventually happened, and she became a saint in the process. Prayer is first of all a trusting relationship with God in which we preserver because we believe in His goodness, His promises and His providence. Prayer leads us into a relationship with God that influences the choices we make as well as our attitude and other relationships. His plan has been proven to be effective.
The good news is, with God every moment has the possibility of being a new beginning because of His love and mercy. He is the one who makes everything possible. We can only be good disciples with the help of His grace, which He longs to give us. What we need on our part is desire. If we have the desire, He will guide us in the right way through His Church. It will always be a challenge and maybe it will seem to be just a little bit more than we can do, but that is how we learn to trust in Him.
Pope Francis recently said, “I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year that we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity.”
We must study and be familiar with the word of God in order to discover and fulfill our purpose in this life, which is to be disciples of Christ. St. Jerome once said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”
Every Mass is divided into two parts; the Liturgy of the Word, during which the Word of God is proclaimed so that it might become alive within us, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, when out of love for us Jesus Christ gives us himself under the appearance of bread and wine by the power of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the priest.
We will never experience anything on this earth more powerful than the Holy Mass, and yet we can be here and miss the reality of what is happening. It is for this reason we should prepare ourselves by frequent sacramental confession and a prayerful disposition. Jesus, present in the host is the answer to all our questions.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.