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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

January 21, 2024: If I continued to hate those who imprisoned me for all those years and years, I would still be their prisoner.

Sunday, January 21, 2024: “If I continued to hate those who imprisoned me for all those years and years, I would still be their prisoner.” - Nelson Mandela


Rain or shine we will stand again today, Sunday the 21st of January the end the suffering in Palestine and to be mindful of why we gather..

Join us if you can. Please bring a friend or two. And umbrellas!

2:00-3:30 in Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa We are creating a community of loving and conscientious people who care

about the injustice going on in our world, especially now in Gaza. May we be the peace and compassion we want to see in our world.

Therese (for NCCP)

Reflection by Jim Fredericks

In today’s Gospel, Mark tells the story of the calling of Simon. Jesus will later give Simon a new name: Peter, the “rock” on which he will build his Church.

Passing by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees Simon and his brother Andrew. They are fishermen casting their nets into the sea. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. I am struck by the simplicity with which Mark tells this story. There is a summons (or is it an invitation?) from Jesus: “Come after me...” After this, Mark simply tells us, Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

There is no discussion or deliberation. The two brothers just abandon their nets and follow.

Mark’s story provides us with the basic elements of our lives as disciples. First there is the Mystery of God’s entry into our lives: the Lord calls us. Then, there is an abandoning: the fishermen put aside their nets. Peter abandoned his nets. And in doing so, he became a disciple.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great Lutheran pastor (martyred by the Nazis) called this abandoning “the cost of discipleship.” Believe it or not, I knew I wanted to be a priest when I was fifteen years old. When I came to this realization, I immediately told myself that I was too young to know such a thing. I certainly was too young to make such a commitment.

This is because, at age fifteen, I had little, if any, understanding of what I would have to renounce in order to be a good priest. Over my life, which is certainly closer to its ending than to its beginning, the Lord has been good to me. He has shown me, little by little, what I need to abandon in order to follow him.

All discipleship entails renunciation. Think of Nelson Mandela. Mandela was a great leader in South Africa’s struggle with the darkness of apartheid. He spent twenty-seven years in prison and then went on to become the president of his country in 1994. To the surprise of not a few people in South Africa, Mandela invited his prison guards to his inauguration.

Asked about this, Mandela said, “If I continued to hate those who imprisoned me for all those years and years, I would still be their prisoner.”

Discipleship begins with a mysterious call or invitation from God. In fact, at the time, we might not even recognize that this invitation has come from God. And then, there is a renunciation.

Simon Peter abandoned his nets. Nelson Mandela abandoned his hatred toward the men who deprived him of his human dignity for twenty-seven years.

Without this renunciation, we remain prisoners, just as Nelson Mandela said. We remain prisoners of our attachment to what we presently are and our fear of what God is calling us to become. And yet, the call from God is not enough.

There must be a renunciation before the life of discipleship can begin. Yes: I knew I wanted to be a priest when I was only fifteen years old. In fact, I was pretty certain about this. But I was merely a boy when this call came to me. I was far too young to understand the cost of discipleship and what nets I would have to abandon in the years ahead of me.

Peter, I think we can say, never stopped abandoning his nets. He had a long way to go after his initial encounter with the rabbi from Nazareth. I also think it safe to say that Nelson Mandela’s abandonment of hatred was not a simple matter either. He struggled his entire life with the Lord’s command to forgive, just as we all do.

The life of a disciple is a life that has been set free by renunciation. It is a life that is no longer a prisoner to life as we know it before the Lord’s call to us. But this freedom comes at a cost: we must abandon our nets if we are to follow him.

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