The phone rang at precisely 9 p.m. as a drought buster of a storm raged angrily outside our bedroom windows. Instinctively, my wife and I both knew who it was and I answered the call with a dull numbness, as if I'd been maced with Novocain.
"Mr. Smith, this is John at the veterinary hospital," the voice flatly reported in a grave monotone. "I'm afraid things have taken a turn for the worse." My heart sank and tears spilled from my wife's eyes behind me. She could tell from my wooden expression that the news wasn't good.
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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.