One day a man was walking through the park on his lunch hour. He saw two men digging a hole on a hot, humid, August day.
He observed something very, very strange going on. While one man was down in the hole digging up dirt, the other man was tossing the dirt back into the same hole. The man sat down at a picnic table and watched this go on and on while he ate his lunch.
Finally the man had enough. He went over and asked the two men what was going on. The man down in the hole wiped the sweat from his face and said, “We’re a three-man crew. The fellow who plants the trees couldn’t make it today!”
An interesting story, to say the least. Maybe it is not so far-fetched. You and I are so caught up in our daily routines. We forget who or what is supposed to go into the holes in our lives. Life can become quite meaningless without putting something of value into the holes in our lives.
In today’s Gospel (Matt 4:12-23), Jesus says to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John: “Drop your nets, leave what you are doing and follow me.” Jesus said he had special work for them to do: “I will make you fishers of men and women. I want you to help save souls.”
Jesus says this to you and to me today as well: “Drop your nets, leave what you are doing and follow me.” Put something of value and meaning in the holes of your life.”
But how practical and restrictive are Jesus’ words to any of us today? If you are of pre-retirement age, you may well say: “Lord, I’m sure you’re not talking to me. I’ve got a job, a spouse, children, an aging parent to care for. I’m a single parent. I need money. I don’t have any time. I work 5 to 6 days a week. I come home exhausted. Lord, did you ever have to make a mortgage payment, pay an electric bill, or raise a teenager?”
Forty years ago, Suzy Yehl Marta, a friend of mine, heard the Lord calling her: “Drop your nets, leave what you are doing and follow me.” She was in her mid-thirties, a divorced mother of 3 children in grammar school, and working 3 jobs to survive. When she was able to get it down to one job, she and I got together and started Rainbows, a support program for children in single parent homes. Over 4 million children have now attended the 16-week Rainbowsprogram offered around the world. Suzy died January 13, 2013 of pancreatic cancer. What a wonderful family of millions of children she helped to get to heaven where she can now enjoy them for all eternity!
What if you are retired? Is Jesus talking to you? You may well say: “My family, my friends and my neighbors need me. I’ve got aches and pains and a very limited income. COVID-19 took its toll on me. Jesus, you’re not talking to me!” But who then is Jesus talking to?
When my Aunt Mary was 70, she moved out to the suburbs to be closer to her children and her grandchildren. She cornered me one Christmas and said, “Medard, you’ll never believe what I am doing. I’m the “Story Lady” for the kindergarten kids in our local grammar school. I’ve found a whole new vocation late in life and I love it!”
One day at a family gathering at a doctor’s house I was introduced to the doctor’s father, who also was a doctor. He was a 70-year old internist who had retired from his practice. I asked him how he was spending his retirement – golf, family, travel? “No,” he said, “Now that I am retired, I can go to a clinic for Hospice patients and volunteer for 8 to 10 hours a day.”
“Drop your nets, leave what you are doing and follow me,” Jesus says this to each and every one of us. No exceptions allowed!
There is a story about a 6-year old boy named Johnny who returned home from his first day of school. In class the teacher asked all the children to bring copies of their birth certificates to school the next day so that their records would be accurate. But “certificate” was too big a word for Johnny to handle, though he knew what the teacher was talking about.
So when Johnny got home, he promptly blurted out: “Mom, tomorrow I have to bring in my excuse for being born!” Not a bad idea – TO HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR REAL LIVING!!
How do YOU respond when Jesus says to YOU, “Drop YOUR nets, leave what YOU are doing and follow me?”
IN ORDER TO BECOME ALL GOD WANTS US TO BE, WE HAVE TO FREE OURSELVES FROM ANY UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WE HAVE OF OURSELVES!