Commentary The stark immediacy of Mark’s account of the call of two sets of brothers reverberates with silence and lack of detail. Within that resonant silence, do you perceive the mythic call into the ocean of the unknown? (Meditation Prompt 1).In the call to follow Christ do you hear overtones of following him into his death? (Meditation Prompt 2). We give Dietrich Bonhoeffer the last word – a reminder of the cost of discipleship in the daily struggles against evil in this world. (Meditation prompt 3).
Meditation Prompt 2
Intimations of Death in Discipleship
But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life, the call rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration – a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth.The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand.– Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, p.43
The Entombment, with Jonah in margin, Lieven van Lathem, Flemish ca.1471, The Getty Museum
Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream’d of in that region, that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O soul. – Walt Whitman
Calling of Peter and Andrew, Duccio de Buoninsegna, 1308-11, National Gallery of Art
Meditation Prompt 1 On the Call to the Unknown
The Sacred Call is transformative.It is an invitation to our souls, a mysterious voice reverberating within, a tug on our hearts that can neither be ignored nor denied.It contains, by definition, the purest message and promise of essential freedom.It touches us at the center of our awareness.When such a call occurs and we hear it – really hear it – our shift to higher consciousness is assured. - David A. Cooper, Parabola, Volume XIX, Number 1, February, 1994, The Call p.11
Initial E: Jonah cast into the sea, Unknown, Franco-Flemish ca.1270, Getty Museum
This first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated the “call to adventure” – signifies the destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented; as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight.– Joseph Campbell Hero With A Thousand Faces p.48
O Lord, this my soul is wider than the world, its longing from depths deeper than any valley, the pain of desire is more troubling than the faint lost bell notes.Only thyself canst fill so vast an emptiness.– Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs
Meditation Prompt 3 The Peace of God, it is no peace …
The followers of Christ have been called to peace. … And they must not only have peace but also make it.And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult.In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. … His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others.They maintain fellowship where others would break it off.They renounce hatred and wrong.In so doing they over-come evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod. Yet let us pray for but one thing- the marvelous peace of God. - William Alexander Percy (1885-1942),from the hymn “They cast their nets in Galilee”
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding …- opening words of traditional blessing
Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive
the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.