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Leave everything to follow Jesus?

Julian Paparella

January 24, 2020
Detail of The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew by Duccio di Buoninsegna (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Leave everything to follow Jesus?
Sunday, January 26, 2020 – Sunday of the Word of God 
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus calls his first disciples and they immediately leave everything to follow Him. These were four men who were in the midst of their workday – Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John. They were fishermen, simply trying to catch enough fish to earn a living. Jesus walks along the shoreline and calls them, and instantaneously they leave everything. What moved them to have this kind of reaction? How could they leave everything so quickly, so effortlessly? What does this tell us about our own lives: should we leave everything to follow Jesus? How?
Just before Jesus encounters his first disciples, the Gospel tells us: “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” This gives us a key for understanding not only the situation of the first disciples, but our own situation as well. The first words that Jesus proclaims are: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Jesus is this light that has dawned and shines in the darkness. Jesus is the kingdom of heaven that has come near.  This was not only true 2000 years ago; it is true today for each one of us. We all have areas of darkness in our lives, shadows that can bring us fear and prevent us from seeing clearly. Jesus comes to dispel the darkness in our lives and bathe us in his radiant light. This is the light shining in the manger that we celebrate at Christmas. It is the light that radiates from the Risen Christ on Easter morning.
The disciples leave everything to follow this light that immediately dispels the darkness in their hearts. We, too, can leave everything to follow Jesus, who calls us into the brightness of His light. When we leave everything to follow Jesus, in reality we lose nothing. Jesus gives us everything. He gives us what truly matters in our lives, what our hearts truly desire and yearn for.
If we leave everything to receive all that we need from Jesus, we will be filled and overflow to give ourselves to others.

Julian Paparella has contributed to Salt + Light Media since 2012. He served as an intern for many summers and currently studies theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris.