Is it just me, or is this gospel reading pretty hard to believe? You expect me to believe that these four men (who have probably grown up learning the skill of fishing, and would therefore, be considered professionals in their field), dropped everything they had (including their potential common sense) to follow a guy who told them he would teach them how to fish for men? This is my sixth year teaching, and if a stranger came up to me and said, “Hey, come here, I’m going to show you how to teach,” I would be a little thrown off, slightly defensive, and somewhat annoyed. There is an implication that you are doing something wrong when someone wants to teach you how to do the thing you are already doing. The ego takes a hit, we have to question who we are, and be open to potentially transforming into someone new.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John all took a clichéd “leap of faith” in following Jesus. As I’m sure many of us know, when we take a leap of faith it rarely makes sense to people around us. Some people don’t get it, some become angry, and others do the truly rare thing of helping us prepare to jump. In 2018, I jumped. Last year I took a leave of absence from my job at St. John's and served as a volunteer in Ecuador. I had the previously stated mix of reviews regarding my choice to leave my stable career and dive head-first into a new experience. Adding to the challenge was that whenever someone would ask me, “Why are you doing this?,” I wouldn’t have anything tangible for them to hold onto. No concrete or organized plan with bullet points to make my case. My most honest answer was that I felt called to it, which was enough justification for me, but rarely enough for the other person.
I think we need to remember a few things when it comes to this Gospel.
- We have to check our ego. When I went to Ecuador, I felt pretty good about myself, as an educator and a human, but that doesn’t mean I had learned all there is to learn. Looking back, I feel very humbled by my experience as a volunteer. In lowering myself, I found a lot more truth.
- Being asked to change and transform isn’t a bad thing. We grow through obstacles and become better because of them. I believe I am a better teacher now, after teaching in Ecuador. I am more patient, more creative, and more informed.
- Faith isn’t logical. Does it make sense that in the gospel these four guys left their security and life investments to follow a stranger? Does it make sense that a 27-year-old who is five years into a stable teaching career leaves their job, and the country, to volunteer for a year? Not really…But faith isn’t an act of logic. Faith is an action verb. And, faith is best lived out, whether it “makes sense” or not.
—Kate Tremarche serves as a member of the math department.