From the Center for Social Ministry’s blog, Building Bridges, Building Hope –
Last weekend’s Gospel reading features Simon, Andrew, James and John, and their call to follow Jesus. What’s somewhat astounding is how quickly and readily these four Disciples let go of their fishing nets and boat and answered Jesus’ call. Perhaps they already knew Jesus or knew enough about him that they had already decided – if the opportunity presented itself – they would leave everything and everyone behind in order to be part of the “time of fulfillment” and “kingdom of God” Jesus was talking about. Or, perhaps they didn’t know Jesus at all, but felt at the core of their being God was calling them to live differently.
While we don’t know exactly why these four Disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus, we do know that prior to following Jesus these four appear to be ordinary men, living ordinary lives. Not only that, but throughout the Gospels their “ordinariness” is emphasized time and again, as they do and say things that feel a lot more “human” than they are “holy.”
And yet, these four end up being instrumental in sharing Jesus’ Good News story and helping lay the foundation for the development of the Christian Church. Like these four Disciples, we could use a lot more ordinary people sharing the “Good News” stories of our faith today, and building bridges of love and compassion.
These past two weeks there has been a great deal of hubbub around the language President Trump used in reference to Haitian and African immigrants/refugees. I’m with many others who think that much of the conversation around the comments misses the point. For Christians, it makes little difference whether or not the President was simply talking “tough” (in his words) or used vile and racist language (in the words of Senator Durbin); there is simply no integrity in being tough or racist if the Gospel is our guide; if Jesus’ life and witness is the lens we use to view immigrants/refugees. Not only was Jesus a stranger, himself, who came from a place that no one imaged the Son of God would originate from, Jesus’ spent his whole life teaching and preaching radical welcome; begging his Disciples and others to love God AND love neighbor – all neighbors – no matter their race, ethnicity or country of origin.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “only love can drive out hate.” Let us, ordinary people, feel an urgency to drop everything we are doing today and follow Jesus; to share the Good News with others that ALL are welcome in God’s Kingdom on earth, as in heaven.
Susie Tierney is the Director of Organizing for JustFaith Ministries and the Executive Director of the Center for Social Ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.