What does the Word of God tell us this Sunday?
Jesus walked along the shore of Galilee and called some folk to follow him. We know that at least some of them did: Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John. Did they know whom it was they were following? It’s not likely. Jesus’ ministry had barely begun, and in Matthew’s account, so far Jesus’ greatest achievements were growing to adulthood and wrestling down the devil alone in the desert. The fact that these four men dropped everything to follow Jesus says more about the prospects of Galilean fishermen than it makes a faith statement about this crew.
They followed a virtual stranger. And so do we all, in the beginning of our journey in faith. This Christ in whose name we were baptized is not our brother or our friend—much less our Lord—when we start out. He’s just an invitation, and maybe we are bored or dissatisfied or curious or desperate enough to accept it. What happens after that depends on how the relationship develops from there, or if it does.
Paul saw full well what happens when the relationship goes wrong, as it did in Corinth. Some who heard about Jesus from Paul thought they were following Paul! And others followed their own messengers, Apollos or Peter (Cephas). Some of us, it should be admitted, are still following our dearly departed priest from our hometown, or the nun who taught us Catechism, or the priest who we like and brought us into the church, the priests before these ones, or whoever it was with whom we were first spiritually smitten. Yet whomever we follow, however admirable, is the wrong guide unless we follow Jesus first and foremost.