In Matthew’s Gospel this was the 1st time Peter, Andrew, James, and John encountered Jesus. He must have a magnetic personality to say “Come after me . . .”, and they immediately everything to follow him. What you do in a similar circumstance? Suppose you’re working the yard and a complete stranger comes along asks you to follow him. You’d probably run into your house and call the police. Right?
Think of it. They left loved ones to follow the one whom Matthew indicates is a complete stranger. In Peter’s case, he left his mother-in-law ultimately to fend for herself. (There’s no mention of Peter’s wife; maybe she has already died.) Andrew gave up his room in the same house and probably most of his friends. James and John left their father in a boat along with their mother at home. And all gave up their livelihood and their security.
As an aside I have a mental image of Zebedee hauling himself out the boat, shuffling up the dock, and with tears rolling down the creases of his face, erasing “and Sons” from the sign outside of their place of business. So much for his dreams of early retirement!
To follow Jesus means jettisoning some things and maybe some people. It means a “letting go” for us and for others. It can mean letting go of a lavish lifestyle to live more simply or of our ego to serve others in the home, at work, at school, not in ways that attract other’s attention, but quietly. I remember one time a long time ago in a place far, far away a person came to confession and said that he/she always made it known when he/she had done something good for another or an organization. For a penance, I asked him/her to do a good deed and NOT TELL ANYONE. A month later the same person came to confession to me and said it was the hardest penance he/she was ever asked to do.
To follow Jesus, to really follow, demands something of us, some sacrifice, some cost.
Now I am NOT suggesting you should go home, pack your bags, and leave spouse and family, friends and employment to follow Jesus!
I am suggesting it should cost you something (cf. suggestion in the fourth paragraph). Otherwise it would be in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was killed by the Nazis, “cheap grace”.
Follow Jesus. But, be aware, there will be a cost.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, A17