Once upon a time there was a great teacher, a guru, who had many followers. People came from far and wide to listen, learn, and be enlightened by this man. There were one-on-one classes and apprenticeships for those who came to learn. When the students had finished with their lessons, the guru sent them into the world to share their knowledge with others as masters in their own right. Just before each student left, the guru would give each a special gift -- the teacher taught each student the mantra of life and death. Phrase by phrase the guru taught them until they had memorized it by heart.
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As Jesus calls his disciples it seems like he has a criterion for the people with which he wants to surround himself. It may not always be obvious in the Biblical account, but Jesus is careful to choose people who are really committed to his message. With their help, Jesus will be able to do more and spread the word about God farther.
There are always difficulties in Christian ministry, at whichever level you're involved in it, from church cleaner to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There's always someone who'll find fault, and if like the Archbishop, you're a subject of media interest, then I should imagine Christian ministry can be very difficult indeed and perhaps something of a burden.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus calls for repentance, expects Peter and Andrew to drop their nets and follow him, and calls James and John to leave their Father Zebedee in the boat without so much as a "So long, see you later."
My task today is to issue that same call to repentance, that same call to radical obedience and decisive discipleship. For that call is urgent and cries out to be issued in all of its majesty and might.