One of my favorite comics has been The Family Circus. It’s a one panel cartoon about the adventures of an ordinary family, with two parents, a dog and usually three children. That number varies when one of them gets into trouble. The mother will be asking something like, “Who put the dog food in the blender?” and the kids will say, “Not Me!” as a little ghostly like child titled Not Me is running away. I think there’s lots of kids named Not Me out there, that one was part of my family growing up.
Not Me was one of the prophets of the Old Testament, but he didn’t have a book to himself. All the prophets of the Old Testament had one thing in common: when God called them, they all said: “Not Me.” Moses was a prime example: he was wanted for murder, and God was asking him to tell Pharaoh to release a good chunk of his labor force. Amos was a dresser of sycamores, Gideon was a rather weak guy, and so forth; they were chosen in spite of their last of abilities.
Jonah took the cake, he was the one prophet who didn’t say Not Me. When God came to him, he bought a boat ticket for the farthest place he could afford and later got to go fishing in a storm. He was asked to go to the place of ultimate evil, a place that enslaved his nation, and warn them of a destruction he wanted them to have. He was successful beyond his expectations, and had a hard time accepting this. When Nineveh repented, Jonah got mad because he knew God was merciful and compassionate and he wanted God to fry his enemies.
The fishermen of Galilee were different when Jesus called. They left their work and their family, walked away from their ordinary lives to follow a strange guy they’d never met. Their desertion would have been as strange as Jonah’s story: this was never done, a son leaving his father on a whim. It meant Jesus was different, Jesus was special.
What does God call us to do? He calls us like he calls the first disciples. A lot of times we say Not Me, at least I did the first few dozen times when I felt the call to become a priest. He assures us that his Kingdom is coming, will come, had not option but to come. We only have to conform ourselves to that Kingdom. live by a different standard, share that message with others.
Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and yet he asks us to follow him, be His presence in the world. Following Jesus means we get to be part of a miracle. We’re part of a miracle today in the Eucharist, where bread and wine become His Body and Blood. Can we take up the challenge? Can we leave whatever expectations we have of ourselves behind, if need be, to answer God’s call?