The
realization.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is the Fifth Sunday after Christmas. As we’ve been studying, Christmas is a season focused on Jesus’ revelation. 

Jesus’ revelation came first to the shepherds – the poor, lowly, and outcasts of that territory. At the arrival of the Maji, Jesus was revealed to the nations of the world. As Jesus rose up from the waters of the Jordan at His baptism the nation of Israel came to know Him as the Son of God by the descent of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the Father saying: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” The Baptizer finally saw clearly who Jesus is, recognizing Him as the Lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world, and he declared it.

Recalling all this, we see the many and varied ways Jesus was revealed. As we hear today, at Capernaum, there was no heavenly choir to announce Jesus’ arrival. There were no scientists from the east with precious gifts and a mighty star to follow. There was no opening of heaven, descent of a dove, or voice of the Father as at the Jordan. All Jesus had in Capernaum was His voice, His call. 

In a season focused on revelation, Jesus comes among us saying: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus delivers His message, His gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Jesus invites us to allow Him to be revealed within us. He invites us to realize Who He is. He invites us to get up and get out into the world in response as disciples carrying His message.

Today, the Gospel recalls Jesus’ arrival in Capernaum by the sea. In Capernaum, Jesus calls the first of His disciples, Andrew, the first called, followed by Simon, aka Peter, aka Cephas, James, and John. They respond fully to the awakening in their hearts. Jesus is revealed, not by signs and wonders, but by their response to interior awakening and revelation.

At Capernaum we find a new and ever permanent call to revelation. This revelation is in Jesus’ words and our call to respond. Like all those called before us, let us allow Jesus’ life to be awakened in us in ever new and great ways. Jesus is calling! Allow His revelation to take hold. Leave the old self behind and go out as His revelation to a searching world. Today, here in Schenectady, as in Capernaum, we hear Jesus. Allow Him to be revealed in us and by our response.

A job, a career, a
calling.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

On this Sunday after Christmas we especially honor the humble shepherds who heard the angelic proclamation and responded.

Some historians have posited that the shepherds who were called the evening of Jesus’ birth were the very shepherds who tended the sheep used in sacrifice at the Temple.  In the modern day, the Hebron Road runs between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It is about nine kilometers, about twenty-two minutes by car from one place to the other, so we could imagine that the Temple sheep and lambs were kept in the fields along that nine kilometers, six-and-a-half-mile route. It’s not that far.

The symbolism there is pretty mighty. God calls those who cared for the Temple sacrifices, the lambs offered up for the sins of the people, to be the first to visit the Lamb of God.

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at the Yale School of Management, established three different, defined contexts of work: job, career and calling:

A job provides you with pay and perhaps some benefits. A job is primarily about earning a paycheck. People who hold jobs are typically more invested in their lives outside of work. Work is merely the way they afford to do the things they love. They do not see their job as a place to learn, gain experience or increase connections.

A career is what you do for yourself. Career people are also working for the paycheck but are more driven to seek out opportunities for advancement. People with a career orientation tend to have a long-term vision for their future, set goals and enjoy competition with colleagues.

Those with a calling however feel a deep alignment between their vocation and who they are as a person. They feel a personal and emotional connection to their work. They are enthusiastic, have a sense of purpose and are willing to work harder and longer to make a contribution. Unsurprisingly, this group is often the most satisfied with their life’s work.

What did the shepherds have and where did they end up? It is likely that they saw their work as a job. There wasn’t much room to learn or advance. Where they ended, and where we need to end is with a calling. For they were changed by their encounter with Jesus and they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.