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
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
What Must It Have Been Like?
While the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And He saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had ceased speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. Luke 5: 1-11
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of the things we may lack when we read Scripture is imagination. We read about the life and ministry of Jesus and it’s hard to imagine the hot sun, the dusty streets, the worn faces of the beggars, and the desperation of the blind men. It’s also hard to imagine the scene at the dock of the lake of Gennesaret, as Jesus approached Simon, James and John and called them to be His Disciples. It’s so hard to comprehend what this might have looked like that in reading today’s Scripture passage, it’s tempting to just brush it aside and not give much thought to it. After all, most of us are not fishermen, and do not hang out at the dock taking care of fishing nets. And here is where we miss the point of the story.
Jesus called fishermen just as they were, doing what they were doing. He walked in on them at the jobs, in their place of business and He called them. Can you imagine the Lord walking in on you in your place of business, or in your home, or while you are doing your hobby? Can you imagine the Lord coming next to you on the golf course and asking “Can I play a round of golf with you?” It’s really hard to conceive of this.
If, however, the Lord doesn’t meet us where we are, if the Lord didn’t meet Peter, James and John on their turf, they would never have followed Him. They would never have known Him. Jesus met them where they were, and how they were, and He led them to Him.
It is interesting to note that Jesus did not go to the rabbinical schools to call his disciples. He didn’t go and call the very religiously educated people. He went and called ordinary people doing ordinary things to follow after Him. He calls ordinary people in ordinary circumstances.
Jesus calls you and I, in our circumstances, to follow after Him. Whether you have been “religious” your whole life or made a mess of your life, Jesus is calling YOU. Whether you’ve read the whole Bible cover to cover, or have never opened it at all, Jesus is calling YOU. Whether you come to church each Sunday or infrequently, Jesus is calling YOU. And whether He is the center of your life or you don’t know Him at all, Jesus is still calling YOU.
When Jesus called the fishermen, He didn’t call them for their knowledge of religion or Scripture. He didn’t call them even because of expertise in their field, fishing. The Gospels are quick to note that they weren’t even very good fishermen. Because each time He encountered them, they had not caught anything. Christ saw something in the hearts of these men that He called. He called, they answered. They stumbled (a lot at the beginning) but became saints.
In the same way, Christ is calling us, no matter who we are, no matter what we do, no matter what we’ve done, Jesus is calling ALL of us to come to Him. In the next reflection, we will talk about what it means to “come to Jesus.” For today, just mediate on the word “come.” This is the first word of Christ’s invitation. It is simply “to come.”
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the people! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols; but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are His sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts! Worship the Lord in holy array; tremble before Him all the earth! Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth. Psalm 96
Imagine Christ calling YOU today, where you are, as you are!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
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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