The reading (Gospel Mk 1:14-20) from last Sunday’s Mass really got me thinking. In this Gospel story from Mark, Jesus is asking Simon and Andrew to drop their plans and follow Him. Now, Simon and Andrew had a pretty good plan for their lives; they were fishermen. Fishing was their vocation, family business and livelihood. Christ says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Gospel reveals: Then they abandoned their nets and followed Him. Additionally, James and John drop their plans to follow Christ shortly thereafter. Not only was Jesus asking them to modify their vision, but He was ultimately asking them to do something that required a new skill set. He was taking these men out of their comfort zones. These guys had their entire lives figured out; they had big plans which they abandoned for Jesus’s plan. As a person who can struggle with God’s will or plan for my life; I find this truly AMAZING.
About 18 months ago, my husband Eric and I realized that we needed to sell our home and move closer to my stepsons. They are getting older and their schedules are busier. Their mother is single mom with an additional toddler whose father is absent. Additionally, my stepsons have experienced chronic health needs which require regular physician visits. It was getting harder for us to manage this dynamic from across town; we needed to move closer to the custodial parent. We sold our home and moved into a rental 5 miles from the kids in their school district.
We had GREAT plans for this move. It would allow us to see the kids more. They could spend more time in our home. We envisioned our home being a quiet get-away from the chaos of their home. We would meet for ice-cream or a quick movie on the weekend. The kids could come over and watch football with their dad. Eric and I would know about (and attend) school functions because we would be just up the road. The boys would come to see our home as their home and not just a place they visit every other weekend. Yep, that was OUR PLAN. It was a good plan, surely God would approve.
Of course, none of the delightful things mentioned above happened. As the boy’s little brother as grown older, they want to leave him less and less. As my stepsons have grown older they resent the responsibilities we have in our home (attend Mass, good work ethic, limited computer & TV time, basic ground rules). It’s hard to enforce rules upon children who have to go between two different homes with varied values, so we try to keep our expectations realistic. Bottom line, the kids see our home as much less fun than mom’s. It’s been a harsh reality for us. My stepson’s (and their mother) want us to take care of the serious stuff, but have no desire to spend any real time with us. We always blamed the difficulties in our relationships with the kids on geography. We fixed the geography, but the dynamic did not change.
Eric and I have tried everything. We have been to court, counseling, changed jobs, sold our house, thrown a lot of money at and downright begged it to fulfill OUR PLAN of family life to no avail. I did not realize until I heard the Gospel reading at Mass (and Father’s homily) that I am like the Apostles. I want to be a fisherman, but Christ has a different plan. He wants me to STOP fishing and follow him. I must have faith in God’s will, but because of my fallen nature and sinful pride it has taken me a really long time to come to this conclusion.
I can’t say that I fully understand the Lord’s plan for my family dynamic, but I do know that it is different from mine. I also know that no matter what God’s plan is; it’s a better plan than mine. As I listened to Mark’s Gospel, I glanced over at my stepson’s sitting next to me in Mass and I got a clue. All of our efforts in the past few years (along with the Holy Spirit) have gotten these boys to Church on Sundays. They participate in the Mass, receive the Eucharist with reverence, and sincerely worship our Lord. Our number one wish for their lives has been granted. Thanks be to God.
Gospel Mk 1:14-20
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.