Matthew 4:18 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. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Matthew links following Jesus with acts of compassion for the most marginalised people in society: “he said to them, “Follow me … and they brought to him all the sick…..” The link is unmistakable – if we follow Jesus we will find ourselves amongst those who are most vulnerable: people “afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics”.
Todays news reminds us of such vulnerable people: In Iraq the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is brutally terrorising / executing Shia opponents, Sunni rivals, captured soldiers, “immoral” women and Christians; in Gaza there are countless families mourning loved ones killed or injured by the Israeli military attack; and we are shocked by the deaths of young people such as Trayvon Martin, Taegrin Morris, and Michael Brown;
I suspect that the voice of Jesus can be heard echoing through the mists of time “Follow me to those who are wounded, and those who have died, and to those who are mourning”. Our challenge is to bring comfort both to those who are hurting, and to address the causes of social exclusion.
42 The Kingdom Comes
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 261.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.