(Matthew 4: 18-23)
The invitation Our Lord offered His first four disciples to follow Him is of great interest. As we know from the Holy Gospels, Andrew, his brother Peter, James and John were disciples of John the Baptist. So they had heard from the Baptist that Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” the Messiah, and they had met Jesus. Indeed, two of them had been to the house where Jesus was staying and talked with Him for hours (John 1:35-43).
Therefore, when Jesus met them later on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called upon them to follow Him, they knew that He who called them was the Son of God, the Messiah Christ, the Savior of the world. So, as soon as Peter and Andrew heard Jesus say “follow Me” (verse 19), they immediately left their nets and followed Him (verse 20). The other two brothers, James and John did the same. As soon as the Lord called them, “they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him” (verse 22).
The word “immediately” used in the Holy Gospel is of particular importance. At that time these people were preparing their nets. As soon as the Lord said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (verse 19), they immediately gave up everything and ran to Jesus. They did not hesitate, they did not say “Lord, you see now we are busy with our work. We will come later.” The other two who had their father with them at work also did not delay. They could have said: “Lord, where can we leave our father to continue the work on his own? Let us help him a little while and then we will come.” This they did not do. If the four of them had waited and offered excuses, can we know what would have happened? Maybe they would have missed this great opportunity that they were being offered. There were others, but they hesitated and eventually lost.
Is that not what we see in our own time? There is someone whose wife and children had been baptized, with his consent. He agreed that the Orthodox Church is the only true one. But he was busy with his business, saying: “I am very busy with my work and I have no time to deal with the Church. When I grow old, then I will take care of my soul!” Who can be sure how many years they will live? But we see baptized Christians, who have been cut off from the Church, make various excuses and delay their return. Others come to Church, and they have years to confess and to receive Holy Communion, to unite with Christ. However, we see there too that they postpone this union. Some people are slow in fulfilling their basic obligations as Orthodox Christians. We must not forget that to act in this way often means frustration and this can lead to disaster. The worst destruction is the one that concerns our souls.
My dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Apostles inspire us with their willingness to respond immediately to the call of Christ. Let us be like those who, without delay, rush to follow Christ in every aspect of their lives. To also conform our lives to His teachings. Let nothing cool the love in our hearts or reduce our confidence in Him. If a temptation takes us away from Christ, let us “immediately” remember Him and come back to Him. Do not forget Who invites us! Our loving, Almighty God! He Who sacrificed His life for our salvation! As God, He needs nothing. Whatever He asks for, He does it for our own good. Let’s follow him with confidence, always, and we can be absolutely sure to benefit, often in ways we do not expect..