The Gospel today is what we know as Matthew 4, 18-22. This is an account of Jesus' call to Peter and Andrew, on the one hand, and to James and John, on the other - all four 'to follow me'. There are two observations about this story which deserve some reflection.
First, by paying attention to quotations we gain profit. That is, a quotation carries with it a significance that outruns the significance of statements expressed in the third person. This literary truth causes us to realize that the words of Jesus, "Come follow me..." are a more significant statement than is the author's subsequent third-person note, "At once they left their nets and followed him". This means that the hearts and minds of Andrew and others is concerned most of all with all that is implied in 'following me', less concerned with 'they left their nets'. For the reader, the story should make clear that what is central to life is not 'giving up', but 'following me'. This means, in turn, that to whatever in life I am called by God to be, whether that be marriage or the single life, whether that be apostle or teacher or parent or yet one of many other types of life as a Christian, what matters is 'follow me'. Certainly, we can only praise those who were called to abandon all and 'follow me'; their sacrifice in obedience to their call is admirable. But we also know the value of the response to every call from God to 'follow me', whatever the circumstances which accompany that call. One is, like Andrew, to fix one's eyes and heart and soul on 'following me.'
Second, one often wishes that Matthew (and Mark, from whom Matthew got his story), would have laid out the key factors, psychological and material, which would lead one to follow Jesus, just because he ordered it. The story must be emphasizing something more important than what one might gain from knowing the path each disciple took to make his response to Jesus positive. Looking at the story again, we cannot miss this relationship: the authority ofJesus we find in his command, his control, his knowledge - he is theLord - and the immediacy and totality of the disciples' response. To such a Lord, when one knows what he wants, there can be only one response: prompt and total obedience. The thought comes that Matthew is presenting an idealistic picture of discipleship. But then we realize that Matthew, Christian, is encouraging other Christians - his readers - to follow the Lord always with full heart.
This call to Andrew occurs very early in Jesus' career; it is meant to explain that Andres and the others have chosen to 'follow me' without an explanation of what that following might entail. Such obedience, when it is based on love and trust.