• Education Forums

Call and Cliché

The Rev. Patrick Ward
January 18, 2018

There is a kind of radio story that I’ve come to understand as “NPR Fantasy.” It usually involves a person who has made a dramatic break with one career to find bliss in completely unrelated work. There’s the ex-litigator now crafting artisanal cheese. The couple who met in their financial services careers but now haul freight in big rigs. The former electrical engineer now running a microbrewery.


On Sunday we will hear one of my favorite gospel stories: Mark’s spare telling of Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James and John away from their work as fisherman. It’s a disruption story that has always been full of mystery to me. Why these four? What did Jesus see in them, and they in him? And what of Zebedee, left standing in the boat?


It’s true that answering a “call” sometimes means leaving one career or mode of living for another. As a media-relations-consultant-turned-priest, and as the brother-in-law of a satellite-engineer-turned-farmer, I have to cede that some lives do progress along lines that can seem like a public radio cliché. But there is a seductive danger, isn’t there, lurking in this same cliché? The danger is a foregone conclusion that “answering a call” and “ministry” of necessity involve a radical turnover and abandonment of a career or mode of living.


Simon, Andrew, James and John left their nets and followed Jesus. I do not believe, though, that most people of faith are called to make such dramatic breaks. God uses all of us. And in most of the places in which we pass our time, God’s kingdom is not quite as believable as it could be if there were more love, more generosity, less fear, deeper commitments to justice, and greater willingness to extend the benefit of the doubt. It’s entirely possible that God may be calling you away from wherever you may be. But isn’t it every bit as – if not more – likely that God is calling you through whatever you are doing now?


At "Educational Forums," enrich your spiritual journey by exploring our resources including videos of lectures, essays by priests, and other pieces about our faith, our church, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century.