We live in a world driven by immediacy. With smartphones and WiFi, 24-hour-news channels and social media, Amazon Prime and streaming television, there is almost nothing that is outside the grasp of our insatiable desire for immediate gratification. In many ways this has led to problems: the difficulty of concentration, the accommodation of sound-bite news, the distancing of relationships while we convince ourselves of our digital proximity in real time.
And yet, there is something about today’s call of some early disciples on this feast day of St. Andrew that sheds a positive light on the immediacy of discipleship.
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.
Both sets of brothers drop what they’re doing and follow Jesus “at once” and “immediately.” There appears no hesitation (at least in this account), no second-guessing of their response to God’s invitation.
And although we now expect and subsequently demand immediacy in so many areas of our life, we are paradoxically slow to follow Christ. The invitation from Christ is no different for us than it was for Peter and Andrew, to James and John, and yet how hesitant we are to drop what we’re doing, suspend what we’ve been planning, or surrender our own desires to follow the Lord.
What would it take to let go of one’s expectations to follow Christ?
What needs to be left behind?
What are we afraid of?
As we continue our Advent reflections and anticipate the coming of the Lord, may part of our preparation include readying ourselves to receive Jesus’s invitation to follow him and, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, live the immediacy of discipleship by our words and deeds.