While walking 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 fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. ~Matt 4:18-22 (CEB)

“Jesus invited Peter and his brother, Andrew, to forsake their business in order to string along with him, and ‘immediately they left their nets and followed him’. Soon Jesus called two other brothers to follow him. ‘Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him’. The Gospel writers reveal a sense of immediacy accompanying Jesus’ call. They recognize a sense of timing. Jesus’ call to our lives is both immediate and timely.

Not only does Jesus call us to join ranks with him; he also names us. In recruiting Peter, Jesus said to him, ‘You Simon, . . . you are to be called . . . Peter’ (John 1:42). Gospel vignettes remind us that we must name Jesus for ourselves. Nathanael named Jesus ‘the Son of God. . . the King of Israel’ (John 1:49). In the early chapters of the Gospels, so many people are naming and being named. We too might allow Jesus to name us, to tell us who we really are. Naming someone defines the person, allows the person to take on an entirely new identity. When Jesus lays claim upon our lives, we are given a new name.

Why is all this naming necessary? For one thing, the ancients felt that a person had no distinct identity until he or she was named. This thought prevails among Native Americans today. I once named a young Native American man. The process of choosing the right name for this young man took two years, so carefully must the family discern who he will be- for the family and for the tribe. His name determines his destiny.

When john’s disciples broke ranks to follow after Jesus, he asked them, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They responded, ‘Where do you live?’ Jesus asked who, they responded where. There spirituality was unformed. They looked for grace in ‘things and places.” Jesus offered them grace in a living, loving relationship. Jesus still asks the ‘who’ questions- not merely ‘what’. ‘What are you?’ is a doing question with a doing reply: But ‘who” you are invites a being response. ‘Who’ inquiries into the soul of us. Who are you? What name has Jesus given you? What name have you given Jesus? ~Norman Shawchuck

Heavenly Father, You have called me out by name. You saw in me more than what I was. You call me by what I can be. I stand amazed at what You have claimed in me and I pray for the strength to live up to what I see through Your eyes. Amen.

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