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Matthew 4:12-23 (notes)

January 22, 2023

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

Mark Davis, who writes the blog “Left Behind and Loving It,” writes about this passage: “There is something about the call, the caller, the called, that evokes an immediate response.”

“Mum. Mum mum mum mum mum, mummeeeee.” Have you been in a playground and seen about four women turn in response to that call?

There is something about the call, the caller, the called, that evokes and immediate response.

This is what it looks like in today’s passage

The caller:

  • Jesus, God
  • Do they know who Jesus is? We know, but the text is silent.

The called:

  • ordinary people in the middle of ordinary lives.
  • Peter, who has many flaws (as we will see)

The call:

  • Repent: Metanoeo
    • Turning back to God; overcoming the separation; accepting God’s love
    • What the OT prophets called the people of Israel to do
    • Judaism is communal: all members are responsible for each other; each person’s actions (good or bad) has repercussions for everyone else; call to repentance not just individual but also community, people of Israel
    • Element of regret, remorse
    • Emphasis on change of attitude and behaviour: follow God’s laws
  • the kingdom of heaven has come near
    • same as kingdom of God
    • empire, reign, rule.
    • over against Roman empire
    • justice, peace, abundance
  • fish for people
    • build a movement; change the world for the better
  • lego and kaleo: two different Greek words, but each means both call and name
    • the call is not just to do something but to be who you are
      • most dramatic: Simon, who Jesus renamed Peter (Rock, Rocky)

Jesus calls them, and immediately they leave what they are doing in order to follow him. Jesus calls and they recognize themselves in that call.

  • Tells us more about the call:
    • it is life changing.
    • It means leaving what you are familiar with: the kind of work you do, the kind of life you lead, habits, ways of understanding the world
    • You don’t necessarily know where it will lead.
    • I think it can be gradual; probably is for most of us; we might already have responded


We are all called. Ordinary people in the middle of ordinary lives, some satisfying, others not so much. Many in transition through age or illness or because of the pandemic.

How do we know?  James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

  • God speaks to us in ways we can understand
  • God meets us where we are
  • God already loves us
  • God speaks to us through our desires.
    • Not superficial, so look deeper. Money = security = ?
    • Naming our desires tells us something about who we are
    • “Our deepest desires, which lead us to become who we are, are God’s desires for us.”
  • We don’t necessarily know what our desires are
    • Look at simple things, daily life: roses and thorns
    • Dreams
    • Other people—what are they saying?
  • Andrew and Peter, James and John: Jesus sees something in them that they have not seen in themselves

Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Questions for reflection

I wonder if you have ever felt called? What was it like?

I wonder whether you have a sense of your deep gladness?

I wonder which speaks more clearly to you: the call to being who God calls you to be or doing what God calls you to do?