Following Jesus, humbly


All of today’s readings at Mass focus on the theme of being taught by God to follow God’s ways and not our own. The city of Nineveh repents of its sinful ways after Jonah preaches to them, and God relents. Psalm 25’s antiphon is “teach me your ways, O Lord.” First Corinthians reminds us that this world is temporary and passing away, with a greater kingdom yet to come than the world we see around us. And then the Gospel passage speaks directly of the kingdom being at hand, when Jesus asks the fishermen Peter and Andrew to set down their nets and to follow him. And they do.

Every one of these passages emphasizes the need for human beings to set aside their own ways of doing things, the nets that may trap them, or the sinful habits in which they may be caught, and instead to take up God’s ways. The psalm beautifully lays out what those ways are: ways that are truthful, compassionate, kind, good, and just. Above all, the human being who follows the Lord must be humble. To be a person of humility is to recognize a kind of paradox in the human condition, in which we are, on the one hand, nothing before God’s goodness. When the light of God’s goodness shines on us, often our own sins and shortcomings become very visible. On the other hand, we are beloved to God in our humanity and in our creatureliness. We are invited to share in that light of God’s love, to partake of it, and to spread it to others through its being shared with us. Without God, we are nothing at all, but with God, capable of sharing in God’s compassion, kindness, and a justice that is infused with mercy. Jesus’ life models for us what it means to live a life that is loving, compassionate, kind, and merciful. So we are each invited to look at what our own nets are that trap us from enacting that love, and put them down to follow Him.