Intention: That this Advent will be for us a time of reflection on the miracle of Emmanuel – of God with us – and that it will be filled with prayer, repentance, and good will to all.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 4: 18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Reflection for Monday of the First Week of Advent
In his book, Intimate Collision: Encounters with Life and Jesus, author Craig Lounsbrough poses the question, “What is life but God’s daring invitation to a remarkable journey?” Today’s Gospel gives us an opportunity to ponder Jesus’ invitation to join in the journey of his mission, and how we might connect this story to the beginning of our own journey through the time of Advent.
Matthew’s narrative is often cited to illustrate both the surprise and the power of Jesus’ call to discipleship. First, we’re shown how everyday people were found in everyday circumstances, chosen in spite of their ordinariness and perhaps even because of it. Then, we see the startling immediateness of their response, as they literally walk away from everything that they know simply because someone asked them to do it. It brings into focus the radical reality of the Kingdom of God. It also echoes another Gospel narrative that did the same.
The Jesus who gathered disciples on the shores of the Galilee was the same Jesus who lay surrounded by strangers at his manger, not only in his person but also in his message. He came to those who dwelt in the dust and the darkness so that they might know who they truly were in the eyes of God. His presence among them was an affirmation, an acknowledgement that they were known. His call was an acceptance, a welcome into dignity and worth. Whether shepherd or fisherman, king or pauper, the simple longing to hear a “yes” spoken to their existence had been fulfilled. This is why they came, and why they would leave all to follow him.
For us today, Advent is a call to mindfulness of this truth and hope that are Christmas. We are asked to immerse ourselves in the awareness that all is in a state of becoming, of immanent and constant arrival. We are a people in motion toward a completeness in God that, in spite of challenges and setbacks, gives us cause to trust in the promise of what lies ahead. In the nativity of Christ the arrival and the promise are one, which is why we look to the manger with such wonder. Our dream can be touched. Our salvation is real.
Eternal Father, in this world, not everything to which we give our attention is as important as we make it to be. Sometimes we shut out everything except what fits our schedules and our goals. How often have we mistaken for noise your voice calling us to our real purpose each day? As this Advent begins, create in us pure and humble hearts, so that we will only make plans that are joined to yours. May we seek only the places that are the ones where you want us to be. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.