Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: “Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday January 26 2020
“On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but a few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.
“Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where club initiations were held.
“About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
“At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.
“As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.” (Howard Clinebell, Jr., Basic Types of Pastoral Counseling)
Today’s gospel passage takes us to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a frequent setting for storm-tossed lives saved by the calming hand of Jesus. It’s at this shore that we find fishermen busy with the work necessary for their very survival. “Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20) But this is only the beginning, because Jesus’ call to discipleship is a universal call, a call to us as much as to those first disciples.
And so hard questions are put to us: What has become of us since the earlier days of energetic idealism? Have we, perhaps, allowed our hearts to become hardened to the cries of the drowning? Have we, perhaps, sought more the comfort of the clubhouse than the dangerous mission of the lifeboat? Have we, perhaps, become blind to the shipwrecks occurring in our families, in our places of employment, in our neighborhoods.
Today, Jesus calls us to drop the nets of preoccupation and follow him out to sea.