Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A, January 26, 2020
Matthew 4: 18-23
"Vessel of Light" By Rev. Jack R. Miller
Four-year-old Jill asked her mother, "God is bigger than us and lives in us, right?" Mom agreed. Then Jill blurted out, "If God is bigger than us and lives in us, shouldn't he show through?" Jill is a promising theologian and speaks to the bottom-line of our gospel passage this morning.
Matthew describes the call of Jesus’ first disciples from their fishing boats along the Sea of Galilee. He invited Simon, Andrew, James and John to leave their livelihood and families, all their worldly possessions and security, to join him in his ministry to the poor, the outcast, the downtrodden, the sick and the needy.
This foursome of brothers heard the call of the Lord, dropped everything and followed him. They were common, everyday people, not the sort of individuals one would suspect of being particularly religious. They were just fishermen. How could they be expected to convince others to change their lives or take a position of leadership in the conversion of the world? They were, after all, just common, everyday people. But they were called. They responded. And God worked his wonders through them. Yes, God is bigger than us, and lives in us, and when that is the case, God does show through.
Like Peter and Andrew, James and John, we are called by Jesus, we are asked to leave behind our own needs and wants, our own secure lives, to follow Jesus' example of love and servanthood. He calls disciples of every time and place and we are no exception. We are called to catch the falling, rescue the endangered, and to embrace the lost and forgotten. We are asked to let God become a part of our lives, fill our innermost being, and become the instruments of God’s compassion, just like those first disciples of long ago.
We may think to ourselves, "I can't do that! I'm not a scholar or a preacher; I'm not even a good person." We may feel held back by how imperfect and unworthy we think we are. Everyone feels like that at times. The first disciples were no different. Peter was uncouth, uncultured, and impulsive. Andrew, James, and John lacked refinement. Philip seemed indecisive. Thomas doubted. Matthew was considered a traitor by his fellow Jews. Simon the Zealot was a dangerous patriot. Judas was, among other things, a thief. Each one was flawed in some way and yet, Jesus chose them. John Calvin wrote, "Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a Church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults." Jesus works with and through our imperfections and misgivings to reach out to a world that badly needs love, unity and healing. Jesus isn't looking for perfection in his disciples, he is looking for our willingness, loyalty and trust. Jesus is looking for a lamp to fill and to let his light shine through.
Jesus extends a personal invitation for us to leave behind the things that hold us back, the insecurities that get in our way, and to follow him. He asks us to become his vessel of light, proclaiming the Good News of his love to all who will listen. He asks us to take on the challenge of discipleship; to extend, regardless of our own circumstances, the love of God to all; to proclaim in our own time and place the compassion, forgiveness, and justice that is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching.
All our lives, we search for someone we can really trust. Jesus is the one. He loves us unconditionally and he is calling on us to love and serve others in his name. If we follow him, Jesus promises to make our lives something wonderful. Yes Jill, you are right, if God lives within us the love of Christ can’t help but show through. Let's love him; let's become his vessel of light; and let's see what Jesus can do with “lives that swarm with many faults," serving in a world filled with suffering and despair. Let our journey begin today.