Weeds Among the Wheat

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“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?

Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘” ~Matthew 13:24-30 (NABRE)

Can you relate to this parable? Have you ever planted a garden, tending it with care, just to discover that as your delicate vegetable plants are growing they also have buddies growing up right next to them that aren’t supposed to be there? Did you ever get daring and attempt to pull the weed? I’ve had to replant the good plant quite a few times due to my desire to be rid of the weed. Fortunately for me my tomato plants are much easier to replant than a stalk of wheat.

It’s really disheartening to look out at a vast field that was so carefully planted with good seed and see all the weeds growing among them. You did everything that you were supposed to do, but all it took was one errant weed seed to find its way into your field and then the weeds were all over. That must be how God feels when he looks at earth. He so carefully created the earth, the animals and humans. He made us in his own image and then blessed us. We were good seed. Then the snake crept in and spewed evil all over, which turned us into one of the weeds. God couldn’t remove the sin that we had done, so he pulled out the good seed along with the weed and tossed us out of the Garden of Eden.

The thing is that God tries to give us all the Miracle Gro and extra nutrients that he can to help us grow. He wants to harvest us all and welcome us back into his presence when the time comes. However, evil is among us planting its seed and watching us be crowded out by the weeds. What is God to do? The only thing He can… when the time comes the harvesters (angels) will come and take the good seed with them and toss the weeds into the fiery pit.

It’s up to us to make sure that we remain good seeds. We can’t allow the weeds to sap the nutrients from the earth and starve us out. If we hold together and gather with like people, then we can grow even better and overshadow the weeds. We need to stay true to ourselves and not give the weeds a good foot hold. Be the best person that you can be. Don’t lower yourself to the same level as the weeds. You are better than that! Just because the Queen Anne’s Lace looks pretty doesn’t make it any less of a weed. Stay true to yourself and your faith. Love God and love one another. Remember, God loves you.

Rest and Recharge

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

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People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. ~Mark 6:30-34 (NABRE)

At the beginning of this scripture Jesus is trying to teach the apostles a lesson that many of us today need to learn, too. You must make time for yourself to be quiet, rest and recharge. When you are constantly interacting with people, processing lots of information and trying to act on what needs to be done, it really takes a toll on your body. Both physically and mentally. Jesus knew this very well. How often do we read about him going off by himself to pray? Quiet time to re-center, re-group and re-charge is what everybody needs. Even God rested on the seventh day!

How often do you see family, friends or coworkers who are so frazzled and at their wits end because they have so much to do and not enough time to do it in? Between work and home we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. A few years ago I actually suffered from stress hives for almost five months because I wasn’t taking care of myself. Stress is horrible, too. It can cause all sorts of issues including weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, hives, excema, heart attacks, etc. You have to learn to say no and put yourself first. If you break down then you can’t help others.

The only “problem” is that when Jesus disembarked from the boat he saw the vast crowds and had to help them. Their need for what he had to offer was greater than his need for quiet time. Parents know this all too well. How many times do you feel like just plopping on the couch and zoning out in front of the TV, but then little Johnny comes up and needs help with something or just wants you to spend time with them doing some other activity? Do you tell them no, that you need to have Me time? Of course, not. You probably sigh and then get up to go spend time with your child.

That doesn’t mean that you never again take time for yourself. You have to know your limits and know when to say ‘no’. It doesn’t specifically say that Jesus weighed his exaustion level against the need of the crowd and decided that he had a little more to give. If you read further in this chapter of Mark you read about the feeding of the five thousand and then you arrive at Mark 6:46, “And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.” Jesus helped all of those people and then still found some time to recharge his batteries.

When I start to feel guilty that I’m doing something for myself such as spending time crocheting instead of cleaning the house, I just remind myself of this chapter in Mark. Don’t feel guilty for taking some needed downtime. Don’t feel guilty that you sat and read a good book for an hour instead of dusted the house. Now, if all you’re doing is Me things, you definitely need to re-prioritize. I’m hoping that the pandemic helped a lot of people learn that a lot of what kept them busy was nonsense stuff. I hope they learned how to just sit with themselves in quiet or realize that what they had been doing was just a bunch of noise. Take a lesson from Jesus; do good works and help out your fellow man, but don’t forget to be quiet and talk with God.

Sheep or Goats?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say

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to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:31-46 (NABRE)

This verse from Matthew was on my heart this morning when I woke up. I’d had a dream that I had been killed in a car accident and found myself at my time of judgement. Images flashed before me and I recognized them as times in my life when I was less than Christ-like. I hit my knees, in tears, begging for forgiveness and mercy, but feeling like I deserved neither. That’s when I woke up. I’m not sure if I would have then been shown the better moments in my life, but it was a very sobering dream.

Ever since the first time I heard this passage it has become my biggest fear. Will I be numbered among the goats? Despite my best efforts, will I still fall short and be sent to gather with the goats?

I firmly believe that our God is loving and merciful, and despite our many failings, He will forgive us if we are truly repentant. Yet, we can’t rely on just our faith to get us into His kingdom. We must do our best to care for the least among us and make sure that we are carrying out Christ’s mission on earth. Have you fed the hungry? Have you clothed the naked? I don’t believe that we have to check off every item on the list in order to get in, but you need to try to do at least a few of these as you can.

So what do you think? Will you be numbered among the sheep or the goats?

Rejection

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He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not

the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. ~Mark 6:1-6a (NABRE)

Prior to Jesus arriving in his home town he had been traveling around teaching and performing miracles. Everywhere he went people would crowd around him asking to be healed. They huddled close to hear his teachings. There was the woman with the hemorrhage who had so much faith that she knew if she only touched his clothes that she would be healed. Complete strangers had such faith in him that they sought him out. I do believe that Jesus was more humble than most of us would be in this situation. If it was me, I would be feeling good about all the things I was doing and the number of people showing up to hear what I had to say. He was working toward rock star status. His groupies followed him from town-to-town and there were the crowds crushing around just to be near him.

Then he arrived in his home town. This is the place where he should be an even bigger star, right? They knew him before he went out and became important. They acknowledge that he has done might deeds and that he speaks a lot of wisdom, yet in the end they reject him and have little faith. I can almost hear one of the men in the neighborhood who used to play ball with Jesus when they were younger, “Yeah, I knew Jesus before he became famous. Sure, he can heal the blind, but when we were kids he never wanted to do anything fun. We would play tricks on our other friends, but he was too good to join in on the fun. He’s nothing special. I don’t understand what all the hoopla was about. It’s just Jesus.”

Many people feel like that in their own families. They go out into the world and make a career for themselves or gain notoriety for something they’ve done. Yet, when they go home they don’t carry the same status. They are treated just like they were before they made a name for themselves. Some people might be very happy with this kind of treatment. Others, like Jesus, are disappointed because not only are they being rejected, but the good that they can do is being rejected as well. How many people in Nazareth could have benefitted from not only the healings, but also the knowledge and faith in God that Jesus was teaching?

Jesus tells us that this is going to happen, but you must stick strong to your principles. No matter what people tell you or ridicule you, your belief in Jesus and your love of God must always come first. You can’t give into the feelings of rejection that might happen due to your faith.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:49-53 (NABRE)

This verse from Luke is very personal to me. When I think about rejection in the Bible this verse always comes to mind. I grew up in a household that considered ourselves to be Methodist, yet we really didn’t attend church or talk a whole lot about God. As Protestants we really didn’t care for Catholics and how we thought they were a bunch of hypocrites who would “sin” throughout the week and then be considered clean after going to confession. Then I married my husband and decided that I wanted to become a Catholic. While going through RCIA (Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults) I read the Bible for the first time and talked about how the readings affected me. I never really talked to my parents or sister about becoming Catholic because I didn’t think they would be very happy about it. I didn’t want to see the disappointment in their eyes or know what they were thinking about the Catholic faith. My parents love me very much and are supportive of me, even if we don’t see things from the same point of view. At this time in my life I knew that a relationship with God, and one formed in the Catholic church, was very important to me. When I read this verse from Luke I knew that this could possibly be my reality. I knew that I would choose my faith over my parents’ feelings.

Rejection hurts, no matter who is rejecting you. If you are sticking to your faith and principles then it doesn’t matter who rejects you here on earth because your heavenly Father will welcome you with open arms. Just keep the love of God in your heart and let the holy Spirit move you. You are wonderfully made in God’s own image. You are loved.

Happy Father’s Day

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Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”

which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. ~Matthew 1:18-24 (NAB-RE)

Today in the United States we will celebrate fathers; the men in our lives who raised us, taught us, and mentored us. On my blog today I want to celebrate Joseph, the adopted father of Jesus. He had such a big role to play in the beginning of Jesus’ life, but we don’t actually get to read much about him. It’s never said where he goes or why he isn’t around with Mary when Jesus is crucified. What it does say, though, is that he adopted Jesus as his own, protected baby Jesus when Herrod was killing all of the first born males, and then brought Mary and Jesus back from Egypt when it was safe so that Jesus could fulfill the prophecies.

Being a dad is a difficult job. You provide for your family, protect them from harm and typically you have to be the disciplinarian. When a child gets hurt or sick they usually want to be comforted by their mom. When a child needs something fixed or somebody to play catch with them, they turn to dad. I realize that I’m using stereotypical roles, but let’s just go with this for this one post.

How much more stress was on Joseph? Not only was he raising a child as a first time parent, but in the back of his mind he knows that this is God’s son. If he was a nervous father before, this probably kicked it into overdrive. Can you imagine being the protector of the Savior of the world? Do you think that he played “I’ve got your nose” with Jesus? When Jesus fell did he nonchalantly tell Jesus to just rub some dirt in it? How many times did he tell Jesus to “think fast!” before throwing something at him?

Today as we thank God for giving us the good men in our lives to look up to, let’s also include Joseph in our prayer. He stepped up to the plate when it counted and adopted Jesus as his own. Without his assistance Jesus might not have been the Savior that we know and love. It was a tough job, but Joseph did it well.

I know that it’s not Christmas, but in honor of Joseph please take a moment to listen to the song Joseph’s Song by Michael Card.

A Tiny Seed is Planted…

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He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.

He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. ~Mark 4:26-34 (NAB-RE)

Today’s reading from Mark shows Jesus trying to teach us that great things can come from tiny little beginnings, even if you’re not sure of the steps in between. Of course, that’s really not your job to know the full process. You plant the seed, tend it and God will take care of the growing. That’s what Jesus was doing in his ministry: planting the seeds that would ripen into the kingdom of God. It started with just him and his small group of disciples… and look at it now. According to the quick internet search that I just did, almost 1/3 of the world’s population are Christians. In 2018 that equated to 2.2 billion people. Think about that fact for a minute… throughout the majority of the last 2021 years news has traveled at a very slow pace. It’s only since the onset of the internet that we can get information from across the world as it happens. So how was it that one guy could show up and seriously impact 2.2 billion people almost 2000 years later? Only God knows.

This is still happening in various ways. Think of everything that influences you or that you come into contact with on a daily basis. They all started as ideas in a person’s head and grew from there. Just because that happens, though, doesn’t mean it’s part of God’s kingdom. Anything that deals in terror, violence or evil is not of God. I’m talking about the ideas that started out small and grew into something so much bigger than the person themself. Let me give you some examples.

If you’ve read my blog Kerry’d Away then you’ve seen the blankets I’ve made for Project Linus. The first part of their mission states, “Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” This is a national organization that donates thousands of blankets each year to help children who might be in need of a hug or something secure that they can call their own. Project Linus started when one lady, Karen Loucks, read an article about a young chemo patient who took her security blanket to each treatment and it helped her to be brave. Ms. Loucks wanted to do this for other children in her area, so she made blankets for a local Cancer Center and the organization was born. One article about one little girl planted a seed and look what grew out of it.

You might not be familiar with the company Duck Commander, but you may at least recognize the faces behind it. A few years ago the family was on A&E with their show Duck Dynasty. They were the bearded duck hunters from Louisiana and the show was very entertaining. Well, Duck Commander is the company that Phil Robertson created after inventing a duck call that actually sounded like a duck (no, that wasn’t typical at the time). The idea started as a little seed in Phil’s head. He knew that duck hunters would be more successful if the calls actually sounded like the ducks they were trying to attract to their hunting spot. With the help of his family, Phil built the calls and sold them to local sportsman’s stores. They kept plugging away and slowly the business took off. The company is very successful nowadays, but that’s not why I’m bringing them up in relation to the reading from Mark.

The Robertson family is very faithful. They are true servants of the Lord. They agreed to the A&E show because they hoped it could be a way to spread the message of Jesus as far as possible. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t really like to have anything to do with God or Jesus (gee… who would have guessed) so the show was mostly about entertainment. However, they did manage to get it okayed that they could end each show with the family sitting down to a meal and saying a prayer. There’s the little seed… now, pay attention.

Fast forward to today where the Duck Dynasty show has been off the air for a few years. What has happened? Well, just like planting mint in your garden, the faith of Duck Dynasty has taken off and spread all over. I’m sure that the Robertsons truly have no idea just how many lives they’ve helped to Save (as in people coming to Jesus) or how many have found new hope in their faith. People will travel from all over the United States to go to Louisiana so that the very people who introduced them to Jesus can be the ones to baptize them. Phil and his sons, Al and Jase, also host a podcast called “Unashamed” where they talk about Jesus, the bible and other topics of faith. These guys are real and authentic, which is why so many people listen to what they have to say. God is definitely growing this plant for his kingdom, but it doesn’t stop there…

You’ve heard about the people at fast food places who pay for the person’s order in line behind them. This is commonly referred to as “paying it forward” (which really doesn’t make sense since they are actually paying it backwards…). Your hope is that by doing something like this, the person in line behind you will also want to pay it forward/backward and thus the chain keeps growing. Another advantage to being a “celebrity” is that you can pay it forward as well. If we go back to the Robertsons I want to introduce you to Jase’s daughter, Mia. She was born with a cleft palate and lip. When Jase and his wife, Missy, were trying to navigate the waters of this new territory there wasn’t a whole lot of information or resources. To fix a cleft palate requires many surgeries, treatments, and procedures. It’s unbelivable what these children (and families) go through in this process. During the run of the show Mia wanted to tell her story. Out of this sprang a desire to help others (which was already there, but now she had an outlet) and the Mia Moo Fund was born. This fund helps to inform, inspire and improve the quality of life for children with a cleft palate/lip. This organization is still growing, but they are putting out so much good in the world. And all of this started with a duck call…

You don’t need to be a billionaire to grow God’s kingdom. You don’t need a million followers on social media. You don’t even need a corporate sponsor. What you need is to plant a seed in the ground, tend it, and have faith that God will not only help it grow, but will help it to flourish. Have faith in the Lord, love Him with all of your heart and love His people. That’s all you need. The rest will take care of itself.

From Despair to Hope

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Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. ~ John 21:1-14 (NAB-RE)

The disciples have just watched as Jesus was scourged, crucified and placed in a tomb. All of their hopes and beliefs from the past several years were suddenly gone. What were they going to do now? Half of them were still shut up in the upper room, full of fear as they hid from the Jews. Emotions were raw. Fear. Anger. Despair. Devastation. Maybe even some numbness. What do you do when you don’t really know what to do next? You go into autopilot and fall back into an activity that is almost a habit. For Simon Peter, that was fishing.

And yet, out on the water, he still couldn’t get away from the memories and the thoughts. He was fishing when he first met Jesus. It was in a tempest-tossed boat that Peter watched Jesus calm the seas. Then Jesus had tested Peter’s faith by telling him to walk on the water. Peter had failed that test. And in his heart he kept hearing Jesus’ voice telling him that he would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed. His despair, regret and bitter pain over having done just that was weighing heavily on his heart. He tried to stay busy to keep the thoughts from coming to the surface. But every pull of the net was as empty as his heart.

As dawn was breaking there was a figure on the beach. Nobody knew this stranger and were probably irritable when they were asked about their catch. The next words, though, would kindle a spark in Peter’s heart. He had heard them before. “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” Hope started to radiate as they strained to pull the fish-laden net up to the surface of the water. Could it be? He had said he would see them again, but could this really be? Was it too much to hope for? “It is the Lord,” could have been Simon Peter’s heart singing out for all he knew. It WAS the Lord, and without thinking, Peter tucked his garments in and jumped into the water. His only desire was to be THERE with the Lord.

Truth be told, that is the Lord’s desire, too. He just wants to be with YOU. Even if we deny him and turn our backs on him he is still there waiting for us. He never gives up on us. All you have to do is ask for forgiveness and it will be given. How wonderful is that?? God knows that we are imperfect. He knows that we are going to make mistakes. And He loves us anyway. He loves us so much that he gave us the Holy Spirit to remind us of his love and his teachings.

It is often when we are feeling as Peter felt that morning out on the sea, that we need to look deep into our hearts and find the Holy Spirit. Let his love and life give you hope. Even if you are still struggling, just keep holding onto the hope because Jesus is right beside you every step of the way. And he loves you so very much!

Fishers of Men…

Footprints in sand
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As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  ~Matthew 4:18-20 (NAB-RE)

Reading about how Jesus calls the first disciples always has me wondering the same things: How could they just drop everything and go with Jesus? Did they realize what they were getting into? Did they really know what was going to be involved? What was it about Jesus’ presence that made people drop everything and follow him? What would I have done if I had been in their sandals?

Why would Jesus choose fishermen? These were just ordinary men. They would tell you that there wasn’t anything special about them, and yet they were chosen first. If Jesus came to earth to teach and proclaim the gospel then why didn’t he go to the Temple and choose from among the religiously devout? If you want to teach about God and his kingdom then shouldn’t you go to the people who are trained professionals?

There’s a phrase that I’ve heard from my priest many times: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the Called. Almost all of the people whom God called to serve in extraordinary ways were very imperfect. Moses had been hiding out for years from the Pharaoh because he had killed an Egyptian guard. He was living as a shepherd when God called to him from the burning bush. David was the youngest son of a shepherd and later in life he killed one of his own soldiers so that he could get with the soldier’s wife. Then there was Jonah who tried to run away from the Lord, but he kept getting caught until he finally relented and carried out the work that God had given him. All of these people were flawed in one way or another, and yet they were exactly as God needed them to be in order to carry out his works.

So why would Jesus choose fishermen to be part of his disciples? Jesus knew that there were going to be difficult times ahead for these guys. He warned them that they would be hated because of him. Can you imagine how that would feel? What would you think if your boss approached you at work and mentioned that you are going to be marked for hatred and disparaging treatment due to the feelings that people have for your employer? And yet these men continued to walk beside Jesus. Why? How could they do that?

“And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.” ~John 15:21 (NAB-RE)

I believe Jesus chose them because he knew how difficult it was to be a fisherman. Even if you have been doing it for years there are still going to be many days where you don’t catch a single thing. Or you pull up your net and there’s a giant tear in it. Yet you still continue to get in the boat and cast your nets because you know that even if you just pull a handful up, there’s always the hope and faith that the next net will contain more. Perseverence. Determination. Never giving up. Those are the same traits that are required to go out and spread the Gospel. That’s what we must keep in mind when we speak about our faith and claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

So how will you respond? Will you pick up your cross and follow him? Or will you list a dozen excuses about why this just isn’t a good time?