My Dear Sisters and Brothers! I believe that you get why, because on this glorious summer day, in this spectacular seaside town filled with a holiday buzz, you have chosen to come to worship Jesus with your fellow believers. Today you have chosen Jesus like those fishermen did that day in Galilee. That’s why I believe that I can take you on a trip to the place where Jesus’s way and our way merge. Are you ready to take off? By the way did you know that the early name in the Scriptures for what is known today as Christianity was the Way? Jesus’ way and our way. One way.
The Gospel of Matthew for today is dynamic. Jesus keeps moving. The previous passage showed him in the desert tempted by the devil. Today we see him passing through his town of childhood and young adulthood – Nazareth and coming to a lakeside town of Capernaum. There he begins preaching his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ If you are about to scratch your head wandering what it may mean hold on because Jesus will show what repentance is all about.
As he is walking by the beautiful lake of Galilee he says to Peter and Andrew, James and John: ‘Follow me.’ Repentance preached by Jesus is first and foremost about turning to him. That’s when his way and our way merge. This is the moment and the place when the ancient prophecy of Isaiah about breaking the heavy yoke is fulfilled. The yoke can be understood as a burden but it also means being paired like a mentor and his trainee, like a rabbi and his disciple. It results in accepting and embracing the worldview of the mentor or the rabbi. It means looking at the world one sees and the world one senses the way their mentor and rabbi does.
In the fullness of time God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who said: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.’ Which means: Come and see my worldview. See the world the way I see it. Embracing Jesus’ worldview frees us from our self-focus and from the fear of death.
St Francis of Assisi once heard this voice in his heart: ‘Think that it is bitter what you find sweet. Think that it is sweet what you find bitter.’ As he was pondering what it meant he came across a leper, before Francis would take a detour to avoid lepers. He couldn’t even look at them. This time he went up to the leper and kissed him. His worldview had been changed. His worldview was now that of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ way and Francis’ had merged.
My Dear Fellow believers! What did those four disciples hear that day by the Lake of Galilee that they left what they were doing, what they were accustomed to, and followed Jesus? They heard the Word of God. Jesus didn’t cast a spell on them. Jesus didn’t hypnotize them. They followed Christ which meant committing themselves every day to following him. Their new yoke didn’t make them slaves, addicts, frightened or isolated. They saw the world the way Jesus did. What a view it is!
Have you ever heard this: ‘You remind me of someone.’? My prayer for you, and for myself too, is that we may hear this: You remind me of Jesus Christ. You walk like him. You talk like him. You think like him. You act like him. You love what he loves. You disapprove what he disapproves.
To finish I would like to quote a sentence from a song of an American music band called the RainMakers. They were popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is the song: ‘You remind me of someone I don’t know.’ As we celebrate the Australia Day this song captures the situation of this beautiful sunburnt country, the country where many don’t know Jesus Christ. However they can come to know and love him, and subsequently to follow him, through our own paring up with Jesus. If we let them see the world the way we see it, the way Jesus sees it.