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So, I just want to ask you a question. When you are at a wedding, and somebody begins to do the conga line, how many of you are the first to jump in? Raise your hand if you are among the first to jump in the line. Ok. How many of you would rather hide under the table when the conga line comes by you? But if you think about the image of that, I want to talk about that and Discipleship. But the image of the conga line going through the wedding, it always takes one kinda nuts person, and that person, it doesn’t depend so much on them, but it depends on the first one to follow them, right? So, if there is this one person dancing around crazy, it’s not a conga line. But if they can get one or two people to begin to follow them and they begin to go throughout the whole wedding reception, sooner or later, person after person after person joins into that line. Some people don’t want to do it at first, right? They are kinda going by them and inviting them, but after the line goes through a few more times, some more people will begin to join it, and people that are a little bit more reluctant begin to join it, and the idea, hopefully, is that everybody at some point gets into the line and ends up on the dance floor. And we all get to enjoy this beautiful celebration.

I want to use that image for Discipleship. Jesus is the first one to start this new line, this new way of living. We hear in the gospels today that he is going by the sea, and he begins to see these fishermen and invite them into the line with him, and then they begin to join him. First two and then another two, and they begin to go out into the world and begin performing miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead, exorcising demons. But it all begins with this call. Not only is the call important, but the response is important, too. The saying YES is important. I remember growing up, throughout my life, I felt this call to priesthood from the time I was in second grade. One of my parents’ friends approached me after my first communion, and she bent down and said, “You’d be a great priest one day.” And I remember bowing my head in shame because I didn’t want to be a priest; I thought priests were boring, and I thought the mass was boring, and if you know me a little bit at all now, you know that I’m not really boring.

But I said no all throughout my life. Any time I would hear the call, sometimes they would say it at mass during the petition; we’d pray for calls to the priesthood and the religious, and I used to say, “No God, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it.” And there came this one summer when my older brother Bobby was actually thinking about the priesthood, and he was going to make this retreat at the seminary. So, when he told my parents about this, they asked me what I thought about this. I never told anybody I thought about it, and I told my parents, well, I kinda thought about being a priest and felt the call, and maybe I should make this retreat with him.

So, Bobby is like me, he’s a little bit scatterbrained, he forgot to tell me when the retreat was. It was a Friday night. I’ll never forget, I was in my bedroom, one of my friends was over, I was in college and I was getting ready to go down to the Flats, alright? It was a Friday night, we were going to go party and have a good time, and I get a call from my brother and he says are you coming on this retreat? And I’m like, no, it is today? And he’s like, yeah, it’s today. And I felt like, if I didn’t say yes at that moment, I probably would never have become a priest. And so, I remember I hung up the phone with him, went out to my backyard, prayed, and said, “God, if you want me to do this, I’ll do it.” And I remember looking up at the sky; it was evening, so the sun was setting, and it was beautiful, and I just had this feeling of peace, hope, joy, and adventure. So, I remember going up to my friend and thinking for sure he was going to try to talk me out of it; we were going to go to the bar, right? So, I went up to him and said, “Hey, there’s this retreat, I don’t know, I feel like maybe I should go,” and he says, “Yeah, you need to go.” And so, I went.

From that moment on, I began this wonderful adventure of priesthood and this life that has been so good, beyond anything that I could have imagined. I think about all my years. I’ve been a priest for 17 years, and the different parishes that I’ve been at and all the people that have been part of my life and friendships formed, and I just wonder, what if I had said no? What if I would have said no?

And yet Jesus continues to call us. At the funeral of a man who didn’t have any family, his friends were actually the ones who arranged for him to have the last rites. And so, the funeral was coming, and I thought it was going to be very small, there won’t be anybody there, he’s got no family. I had the funeral, and the church was absolutely full. It was completely packed. And every single one of them were his friends. He was a teacher, and so over the years, he taught people and encouraged them, and this whole church was packed by this one man’s life. No family. But all of these friends who had become family with him.

We hear in the gospel today that Jesus was going by these fishermen. That’s all they knew to do was fish. And so, he invited them and said, “Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And so, they began to follow him.

Each and every one of you is his Disciple. You’ve already been chosen. He’s already working in your life. He wants you to be not only his disciples but also fishers of men. He wants you to go out and find people in the world who do not know Jesus and who do not know this wonder adventure of our faith, and he wants you to take them by the hand and invite them into this journey. Think about that. What if we were like that man who invited all these people into our lives, who invited all these people into the church, and the day that we die, the day that we have our funeral, what if the church was packed with all of your people that were called to be your Disciples? Because Jesus, if he didn’t have Disciples, he would just be this crazy guy, right? But he invited them.

And just like at a wedding reception, when somebody starts the conga line, and they go around, and some people don’t want to do it at first, and you kinda have to go around again and maybe invite them again, that’s how it is with Discipleship. We have to constantly and continuously invite people to join this line, to invite people to join this adventure of our faith. There are so many opportunities that I think we miss because we are not constantly thinking. Can I invite this person into this Joy? Maybe it’s because we are not even sure we want to invite them because we haven’t really experienced that call or that depth of love for God. We have this year of the Eucharist, this Eucharistic Revival, so that we can have that encounter with God that is so profound and so Joyful that we can’t help but want to invite other people into this.

One of the things that I love about this parish is that I have experienced over and over and over again, you put me to shame by the way because I’m sometimes afraid to say, “Hey I’m the priest at Saint Matthias, come to my church.” But you do it. I’ve seen so many of you people and so many guests and visitors because you simply said, “Saint Matthias is a great place. Come.” And all it takes is that invitation. You don’t even have to say or do much more; just say I’d love to have you come. You are called to be fishers of men. Discipleship is not just about us following Jesus. Discipleship is also about inviting other people into this wonderful adventure.

So, as we celebrate this Eucharist today, may we just ask God to set our hearts on fire in such a way that we not only want to say “YES,” but we want to give other people the opportunity to say “YES!” And I just ask that you ask him to place anybody in your life on your heart right now that he may be asking you to call and invite into this adventure.

Little by little, like the conga line, more and more people will be invited into this faith, more and more people will come into the church, and more and more people will know the joy, excitement, and adventure of this wonderful life that we have in Jesus. It is an adventure. But in order for us to experience the adventure, we have to be willing to say “YES.” And we must be willing to ask other people to say, “YES!” Sometimes, all it takes is simply reaching out your hand and saying, “Will you join me?”