The other day, I was wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt on the train (which never happens. Ever. I am Not That Girl). Then, someone spoke to me, as we were getting off: "You went to Notre Dame?"
I was taken aback: how did he know? How did he discover this truth about myself? Then, I realized I was wearing the sweatshirt. Duh. I was wearing this truth about myself essentially on my shirt sleeves. We struck up a conversation, and I was surprised at how at ease I felt. Someone had named a truth about me (albeit not an essential, deep, and secret one), and I responded not with my usual cold shoulder, but with a human encounter.
A man appears on the shore of the sea, and calls out: "Come, follow me." And, at least some of them do. That is mind-boggling.
If someone walked up to me and called out: "Come, follow me." I'd be like: aaaaannndd I'm going into the next subway car now. I'd say: BYE, and walk/run in the exact opposite direction. No. Thank. You.
Even when someone I love and trust says: "come, follow me." I'm usually like: just a minute! Be right there! Let me finish this thing, then yes, I'm coming! One more thing. Let me finish what I want to do before I decide to to what you want me to do.
So what was it about this man that led these fishermen to decide to go and follow him?
The immediacy of their response astounds me, and shames me, as I think of all the men and women and student (always the students) who walk up to me and demand my attention, and usually I respond with: one moment. Give me a second. Just a minute. I am always holding onto my nets, and thinking: okay, but I'm just going to try one more time before I abandon them.
Imagine what courage and strength it would take to cast off your net without a second thought. To simply leap up in response to a call. One would only do that, though, if one felt a genuine call. What was it in those words that spoke to them so keenly that they abandoned everything they had ever known for this man.
He speaks, and we hear the deepest desires of our soul resonating in Hi voice. The Gospel accounts vary, but I remain convinced of one deep truth: they heard, in His voice, the call they had been longing for all their lives, without ever understanding what it was. It would be as if a stranger on the street reached out to you and said to you the very word you had long held deep within your heart to describe yourself, yet had never spoken of to anyone. It would be as if someone appeared out of the crowd on the sea of Galilee to tell you that all the dreams of greatness you have ever held in your heart were fulfilled right now.
And how could you not go? If someone appeared and spoke the words you had been waiting to hear your entire life? And even if, right now, you do not know what they would be, you would know them when you heard them. We know--we just know--when someone knows us and sees us.
If a stranger can know inessential, surface facts about us, imagine how deeply and truly the Logos would know each of us. Imagine encountering Him: speaking to Him would be like learning the truth about yourself for the first time. Imagine hearing His words: words you had hungered to hear your whole entire life, and you didn't even know you had.
Maybe, then, even I would cast down my nets without hesitation, row to shore, and follow Him at once.