As Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him.
When I read today’s Gospel passage, I am reminded of my own vocation.
I never thought I would be a priest. Never! Never. I grew up in a Catholic family but religion was not something that was forced down our throats. Rather, getting a good education was. Growing up in upstate New York, my dad always reminded me of the importance of getting a good education. He appreciated what a good education had done for him. It made life easier. He was the only child in his family that went to college and earned a Ph.D. He earned his doctorate in Jurisprudence.
Now I have to admit, I wasn’t really interested in getting an education. I was more interested in making money. So, when it came to choosing a major, I chose the most marketable one around: Imaging Science. It paid off, and before I even graduated from R.I.T. with a B.S. degree in Imaging Science, I landed a job with the Eastman Kodak Company. I was considered a “lucky” guy by many. After all, “if you got a job with Kodak, then you had a job for life”. How funny!
But when I found out that I could make even more money with a Master of Science degree, I went to work on it and earned my M.S. in the same field of study. It seemed to take forever to complete my thesis: “A Computer Simulation of an Electrophotographic Halftone Device.” [Remember FORTRAN and SLAM?], but I did. And after spending nearly every night for a year on it, I finally defended it in front of professors in my own department and in other scientific disciplines.
Now that my life was set I was ready to have some fun. I earned it. But it was at this moment that my life turned right-side up.
I began to date a young lady who was not a Catholic but a very committed Christian. She loved Jesus Christ and she wanted to share her faith in Him with me. I wanted nothing to do with it. I thought it was great that she was a Christian (she had great morals), but I didn’t share in her zeal or passion for God or Church. After all, I was pretty sure that all religions were the same and that they were all superstition.
So while she was busy trying to convert me, I got to work trying to convert her; that is, make her see religion the way I saw it: as nonsense.
What better way to accomplish my mission than to use my own Church’s beliefs and tear them apart. But I was shocked at what I found. I was shocked because I discovered how wrong I was. I thought I would find a bunch of superstitious nonsense; instead, I found out that I was the “superstitious” one, for what I thought the Church believed in was not at all what the Church believed in. Finally, I came to realize the questions I had were not original at all. In fact, they had been asked many years ago. And I was surprised to learn that many of my questions had been asked before and answered long ago.
Not too long after discovering my faith, I began to change my life. I am so glad that I did. My job would no longer be my life. My beliefs would no longer be in manmade documents. My security would no longer be in my job. Rather, my life would be in God’s hands. His commandments would be my code of conduct and my security would be in following Him.
I hate repeating myself, but in the past I have said that most people are followers, very few are leaders. Most people are “regurgitaters”, very few are thinkers. So, the questions I asked myself were simple and straightforward: Who do you wish to follow? Who do you wish to model your life after? Who do you wish to quote? Who do you wish to be like? Men or God? How about both? How about the God-Man: Jesus Christ.
I did. And I have never looked back for I have never found someone superior in character, in words, in deeds, in values, in moral, in principles, in conduct, in strength, in courage, in determination, in perseverance, in fortitude, in compassion, in mercy, in truth, in justice, and in love than the Lord.
It was at that moment that I saw the world (including myself) as it truly is: upside down (or fallen). When I changed my life, all I really did was to stop standing on my head.
When we stand on our head we chase after the wrong things in life. But every time we chase after the important things in life we begin to stand on our feet. Yes, it’s the same world, but from a different perspective. The former causes a lot of headaches. The latter does not.
Let’s follow the Lord. Let’s leave our things and follow Him.