In this Sunday’s gospel passage, Jesus tells us to do three things: change, follow and do.
The first thing that Jesus tells us to do is to change our lives. We need to leave behind the darkness of sin and live in friendship with Jesus. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4: 17).
Change is not always easy. Sometimes we are burdened by old habits or by addictions that are difficult to overcome. Conversion does not mean that we will never sin again. Conversion does mean that we are in love with the Lord and that we struggle with ourselves to overcome our sins, our tendencies and our weaknesses.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis writes: “A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties” (Evangelii Gaudium, 44).
It is of utmost importance that we form our conscience well and not allow ourselves to be deceived. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Let us not fool around with sin.
After the general call to repentance, Jesus personally enters into the life of every disciple. He tells Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him. “At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4: 20).
The response is immediate because when someone meets Jesus, he or she is never the same.
Pope Benedict XVI put it nicely when he wrote: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 217).
Our personal relationship with Jesus must be nourished every day. Our spiritual life must be well organized and consistent. Morning Prayer, meditation, daily Mass, daily Rosary, Night Prayer, Adoration, the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession and an annual retreat are the preferred elements of a solid spiritual life.
Thirdly, Jesus tells us to go and do something. He sends us out. He calls us to evangelize. The personal experience of God’s unconditional love cannot be bottled up within ourselves. It must be shared with others.
To be a disciple and an apostle are one and the same thing. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4: 19).
Pope Francis writes: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mark 6: 37)” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49).