Reflection: Faith, Hope, and Answering the Call
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
In this week’s gospel, Jesus begins “calling” his disciples as he walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In this gospel account, all of those whom Jesus called are fishermen, and they simply leave their nets to follow him. I have long wondered what was so compelling about Jesus’ call that caused people who had families and responsibilities to walk away from their lives of habit, and tag behind someone they didn’t know. In other gospel accounts, they ask Jesus what they’re in for, and Jesus simply, inscrutably says, “Come and see … ”
I think about this and all the decisions we make in our lives. When we were younger, people would ask us what our major was. We typically had some idea. But the answer in the context of our entire life, and all the decisions we make over the years—well, the answer doesn’t carry all that much weight. We can’t be defined in a word or two, and our lives get “called” in directions that by any rational understanding are mysterious to us, even through the lens of hindsight. Using Jesus’ words, we can’t “see” until we first “come.”
Even the most risk averse of us make decisions that carry much more weight than we could have imagined. We can frame the story of our lives as if one event followed the ones before it, but only a small number of the outcomes in our lives were foregone. We are terrible fortune tellers of our own lives, most of us.
That is why faith and hope are so crucial. The two are inextricably intertwined, but different. We hope we’re making the correct choices, but little is guaranteed. That is why faith needs to be strong and ever present. Faith gets us through the surprises. The fishermen who left their nets to follow Jesus—to come and see—were guided, as we all must be, by faith and hope. Faith and hope are the gifts from God that undergird the courage to make the decisions we must make throughout our lives—to continue to answer God’s calls.