Do you ever wonder—as I do—about the 30 years Jesus lived in Nazareth with his mother and Joseph, growing in wisdom and grace, virtually living the Good News—as we define it—BEFORE declaring it to a wider circle? I like the idea that he had to go into seclusion to study the Torah, as any little Jewish child would do. Where did Jesus go to school? Probably to the Temple among the Rabbinic teachers. I also wonder how those teachers reacted when they heard Jesus respond to his parents who finally found him after days of anxiety: “Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” Quite off-setting, I’d say! Here, a child teaching his parents!
Then, Jesus left home, at age 30, to make friends and to boldly call them into friendship with a simple two-word invitation: “Follow me!” What did he expect? Had he known them prior to this rather confident expectation that they would leave their work with the fishing nets? And their fathers—to say nothing of their mothers or wives?
Twelve of them followed. Was it because they knew Jesus or did they follow because of their friends? Did they know Jesus well enough to trust him? What did he really mean: “Follow me”? Where? For what purpose? For how long a period of time?
Would I have left my fishing boat? Without any questions? Would you?
I fear I may have had an excuse like some other Gospel people, equally called, and this time to a banquet: “Oh no, I cannot come. My father is dying.” Or, “I just got a new job and I can’t leave now.” Or, “I’m preparing to be married in two weeks and there’s so much to do.”
To my surprise, decades later, I find myself often praying for a more intimate relationship with Jesus, or to follow him more closely. If only I had listened in my youth; he wanted me to be his friend, so why didn’t I know like his 12 initial followers? Today and in the past, others die because they are so faithful to their Beloved. Could I? Could you? I’d love to know your story…
Renée Domeier, OSB