Advent 2021


Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle: The Paradox of Conversion

Fishing Nets“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus speaks these words today, calling upon two fishermen brothers, Peter and Andrew, as they cast their nets into the Sea of Galilee. He goes on to call James and John, who, in a similar way, leave their boat behind to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. Standing there onshore amidst the waves and salt-soaked air, lifting up his voice underneath the hot golden sunlight, with a piercing stare, Jesus breaks into the rhythms of daily life. He meets the men exactly where they are, transforming the very roles they already inhabit, infusing these roles with new life and new purpose. The actions that have occupied their days to this point—charting uncertain waters, casting their nets with firm resolve, keeping the faith that the fruits of their slow, determined labor will feed the hungry— suddenly, mystically, beautifully, take on new meaning in the context of discipleship. Thus, in my mind, emerges the paradox of conversion: these humble servants of God are the same, and yet they have been radically transformed, laying down their nets to bring in a harvest of souls. 

Turning over this passage in my mind, I am reminded that Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, knows the many gifts and talents that each of us has to give. He knows the things that have informed our past, the modes of being that light us up inside, the distinctive vocations that will captivate our hearts and help us breathe a glimmer of Heaven into this life. I am reminded that when we enact our God-given gifts and talents in Jesus’s name, we experience an ever-deepening conversion of heart that spills over abundantly into every thing we do each day. I am filled with the hope that we too can experience the paradox of discipleship—that we can in some ways be “the same,” living our student vocations to the fullest in whatever way that may take shape for each of us, and yet that we can also be radically transformed, heeding ever more deeply the call to serve our campus and our world with the love of Christ.  


This Advent, as we await the birth of our Savior, let us remember that now is still a time to act. Jesus is still standing onshore, bathed in sunlight, eyes aflame, calling us to conversion right here and now. Let us make room in our hearts and minds to hear that call and really listen. And let us go forth to emulate the example of wholeheartedly giving up ourselves, our gifts and our talents as instruments of divine grace. I ask this for you and for me, dear reader, through Christ our Lord. 

Katie Painter '23

Katie is an undergraduate in Timothy Dwight College