Our first reading shows us God coming to Jonah for a second time. After the first calling Jonah run away from God, or better to say he tried to run away from God, as he didn’t like the mission God was giving him. It was a good try but Jonah failed to run away from God. God found him like he did find Adam and Eve when they hid themselves after sinning. God knows that our happiness is in being close to him, which means doing his will and participating in the mission of salvation he is accomplishing.
When the Son of God Jesus Christ, came to save people he began his public ministry by calling some people to follow him. He didn’t take them to some remote and serene place but he led them right into the midst of human activity. He drew them into his mission. The greatest preparation those four men from today’s Gospel were given for their future endeavours, was being united with Jesus. It was because Jesus united himself with them. That’s why Jesus never gave up on them even when they tried to run away like Jonah did. We remember what happened with the disciples when Jesus was arrested. They run away and hid or better to say, they tried to run away and to hide. The Risen Lord found them and invited them again to his mission.
In our Catholic tradition there is a story about the aged St Peter, who after being advised by his fellow believers to save himself, was leaving Rome when Christians were persecuted there. On the way out of Rome he met Jesus carrying a cross and walking towards the city of Rome. When Peter asked Jesus: ‘Quo vadis Domine?’ which means ‘Where are you going Lord?’ he heard: ‘I am going to Rome to be crucified there again because you are leaving the city.’ Peter changed his plans. He went back to Rome and was crucified there upside down.
My Dear Fellow believers! As we witness Jesus calling the Apostles we are not spectators of some reality show. It is the Good News for us that the Lord Jesus will keep coming to us when we try to run away from him. He knows that our lasting happiness is doing God’s will and participating in the mission of salvation.
We don’t win people for Jesus but we are privileged to witness Jesus doing great things in others when we do our best to bear witness to him. The great stories we find in the Gospel happen in our days to. Today we read the story of Jesus calling his first followers so that we could be reassured that it does happen in our time too.
Tomorrow the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate will celebrate 205th anniversary of the foundation of their Congregation. It evokes the 25th of January in 1816 when a young priest Eugene de Mazenod and two other priests came to live as a community in the rundown Carmelite Convent in Aix in France. Why did they leave the comfort of their families and presbyteries to embrace the austere conditions of the ruined monastery? It was they believed that what Jesus did in the Gospel happened to them. They believed that Jesus called them to be his missionaries. Some years later when St Eugene was reminiscing that time he said: ‘I’ve never been happier then at that time.’ Should we be surprised? He was following the Lord of heaven and earth who loved him and gave his life for him.
The same Lord of heaven and earth has called us gathered here. He is not taking us out of this world but he is taking us into this world which still cries for salvation.