17 January 2011


Last week and this week we see two different versions of how Jesus called the first apostles to his ministry. In John, we see Andrew reacting to the John the Baptist's proclamation that Jesus is the lamb of God and calling his brother Simon to join him in following Jesus. In Mathew, we see Jesus leaving Galilee after Herod arrests John and then coming to the sea of Galilee and calling both brothers.

It is interesting to consider what the lectionary is telling us here. This is the season of Epiphany. Epiphany tells us something of how we recognize Jesus and what this whole incarnation thing is about.

So we begin with the recognition of Jesus by the wise. Then we turn to other moments of recognition, John the Baptist recognizes Jesus in the act of baptizing him, the disciples recognize him in their calling.

That John and Mathew tell the story differently should not surprise us. Those who insist on the silly idea of inerrancy have a problem here but serious readers of Scripture will find simply a difference of viewpoints. John and Mathew were written at different times to different readers.

Both stories and the other calling stories are here shown to be about the same thing -- the recognition of Jesus by the disciples. Which leads as the lectionary often does to a question for us. How do we recognize Jesus in our day.

One answer is the Eucharist. As a commonly sung communion hymn has it, "Be known to us Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread." It is not an accident that contemporary worship in TEC and other Anglican communities resolves around the Eucharist. In it we answer the longing to see and recognize Jesus. It is not enough.

That leads to a second answer which is found in our daily lives away from the Eucharist. Jesus is in the people we meet, the problems we can solve the pain we can alleviate. In his description of the final judgement when we are told that as we have acted well towards those in need we are acting well towards him, Jesus tells us where to find him.

Epiphany is there finally. Not in some theological book but in the face of a staving person in Etheopia or the dying child in Darfur denied clean water. Our task is to receive him in Eucharist and then do something! It is no accident that the TEC prayer after communion asks for strength to do the work we are called to do.

As Jesus called the apostles to fish for people, he calls us. As he acted to help the people he calls us to act. Nothing here of purity or exclusion, here only is the call to do something. As Andrew and Simon followed so should we.


1 comment:

Christal said...

I really feel that Sudan calls our church for action...and we have stepped up to help.

St Laika's

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