Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. Matthew 4: 18-23 (Gospel of Second Sunday of Matthew)
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be on the boat with Peter and Andrew when Jesus called them to be Disciples, when He called them to leave their work, their families and their lives and follow Him? If you had been there, would you have gone eagerly? Would you have gone below the deck and hope He didn’t notice you? Would you have jumped overboard and swam far away?
The fact is that we are all on the boat with Peter and Andrew. Christ has called each of us to follow Him. And if we are called to follow, it means that we are asked to let Him lead us. Do we go willingly? Joyfully? Do we run away?
Christ has called each of us to be Disciples. “Disciple” literally means “student.” So we are called to be His students, which means we are called to learn what it means to be a Christian. We are called to continually deepen our understanding of Christianity and to continually cultivate a relationship with Christ.
Christ has called each of us to sacrifice. He has called each of us to put Him ahead of our families, careers and hobbies.
He has called each of us to serve one another in some way. Many serve through vocation—some serve as teachers, others as doctors, lawyers, and architects. Some serve through volunteer efforts—they coach youth sports, or lead scouting programs.
There are many people who have answered all of the calls described above. They follow, they let Him lead, they study, they sacrifice and they serve. However, there is one more critical characteristic of a disciple, and that is to share Christ with others. This is a place where we all fall short. Christ didn’t just ask Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow. He told them that He would make them “fishers of men,” meaning that they would “catch” people into the net of Christianity. Have you ever thought that being a “fisher of men” is an important part of our Christian call, to share Christ with others? Most of us think this is strictly the responsibility of the priest and the fact is, sharing Christ is not only something we all can and should do, it is something that we can and MUST do.
So, as you heard the Gospel lesson today, don’t just think of it as a very short passage that talks about Christ calling His first disciples. Rather, hear it as a call to all people to follow Christ, to serve one another, and to actively work to spread the Gospel, to bring others to Christ, to become a fisher of men. For the call to be a Disciple is not only a call to follow. It is a call to lead.
The soldiers keeping watch at Your tomb, my Savior, became as dead for fear of the radiant Angel. And He proclaimed that You rose to the women who came at dawn. We extol You, Lord, for You abolished corruption, and we worship You, our only God, who was buried and rose from the sepulcher. (First Kathisma of the First Tone, Sunday Orthros, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Follow Christ! Lead others to Him!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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