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Call to Discipleship

The call to discipleship.  That is my topic for today.  The call to discipleship.  In today’s Gospel, James and John and Peter and Andrew were quite content with their careers as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.  They were not looking for any career changes.  But Jesus came along and called them to serve the Kingdom.  Jesus called them to pursue something more important than their careers.  He called them to serve a higher goal: namely the goal of building up His Kingdom.  Jesus said, “Follow me.” and he took them to see the poor and the rich, the healthy and the sick, the famous people and the outcasts.


Jesus said to them, “Help me to pull all of these people together into one family.  Help me to create a world in which all contention will cease, and every division will melt away.  Help me to create a strong faith community and a lasting peace.”


Peter and Andrew and James and John said Yes to that call.  It meant a big sacrifice.  It meant that that they had to leave behind everything that they loved to do.  But with a cheerful disposition and a willing spirit they said Yes when Jesus called them to serve the Kingdom. 


However, several months down the road they began to waver.  Especially when Jesus said, “You must take up the cross if you want to follow me.”  Sometimes they were absent when he gave his speeches, and they were absent when he died on the cross.  But after he rose from the dead and began to appear to them in his Risen Body they felt the call once again. 


Jesus gave them this call in His Great Commission and they returned to the work of discipleship.  They came forward and began to preach openly - even though it was very dangerous to do so.  They told the people: “Turn away from sin.  God loves you and God will bless you if you turn away from sin and follow the Gospel.”  Before long they received the consequences for preaching openly about Jesus and His kingdom.  They were persecuted and they were killed because they were loyal to their faith.  They experienced the full cost of discipleship. 


Now I would like to look at the work of several women who have served the church as disciples.  I will begin with Elizabeth Ann Seton.  She was the first American to be declared a saint.  The Catholic Church honors her for sharing her faith with her own children and then with hundreds of other children.  She founded the first Catholic school in our country in Emmetsburg, Maryland.  In other words, religious education was the work that she did as a disciple of Jesus.


Mother Teresa of Calcutta served as a disciple in the realm of social ministry.  She served the poorest of the poor.  When she walked through the streets each morning, she saw people who had been left there to die.  She took them into her convent and cared for them so that they could die with dignity.  She firmly believed what we read in Psalm 139: “Each person is wonderfully made.”  She also took in children who had been abandoned by their parents.  That was her way of being a disciple. 

Mother Teresa said, “Each person is Jesus in disguise.”  When she visited the United States and other countries she said, “Each child is a gift from God.  Psalm 127 tells us that each child is a gift from God.”  Then she would say, “Each child must be protected from abortion and other forms of violence.  If you do not want your child, give your child to me. I will care for your child.”  she said.  So, Mother Teresa’s work of discipleship consisted of caring for those who were most weak and vulnerable in society. 


I will close with this thought:  In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Come, follow me!”  That leaves us with a question: Will we follow Him, or will we turn away?

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