Rather, Jesus withdraws, builds a community, and then Gets Busy.
[Read Matthew 4:12-23 – http://tinyurl.com/4vnq47y]
John, who prepared the way, is arrested. The only community that we know of for Jesus – to that point – is taken off the table. As a result, Jesus withdraws.
Jesus withdraws at significant times in his ministry, usually to pray. Although there is no mention here, I assume prayer was a part of his regular discipline. This first withdrawal is focused on building a community that is committed to the mission of God’s reign. I think this is worth a second look.
Usually we think that the work Jesus does is the preaching, teaching, and healing that we read about in the last line of this week’s Gospel selection. He is traveling, he is booked, and he is busy. I can also identify with it. It is active and it is measurable. I can almost imagine reports of his activity, his metrics. “I cured every disease and sickness presented: 28 sicknesses, 13 diseases, and 3 dual-diagnosis healings.”
I think we miss the energy that Jesus puts into building a community – before all the activity. In our selection, Jesus calls 4 disciples, Andrew, Peter, James and John. These would become his inner circle. Perhaps the most significant work that Jesus did is one that I need to pay more attention to: Jesus created relationships. His first action was to build a network of mutual support.
Church is first and foremost a community of worshipers who support one another on God’s mission. Jesus is at the center, but he is not alone. Priests and Bishops are often prominently featured in the church, but we are not alone, and we are always part of a community of mutual ministry and support.
That is my first goal. Build the community for serving God’s Mission.