It is an incongruous scene: a multitude in the desert.
The desert is supposed to be desolate, barren, devoid of life. There may be the occasional sturdy breed of plant, animal, or insect that can survive the inhospitable environment, but little else. Rivers and lakes may teem with fish; the forests are full of birds and wildlife; the fields and prairies are home to countless animals; the desert is a mostly unpopulated expanse that lacks almost everything necessary to sustain life.
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As Jesus calls his disciples it seems like he has a criterion for the people with which he wants to surround himself. It may not always be obvious in the Biblical account, but Jesus is careful to choose people who are really committed to his message. With their help, Jesus will be able to do more and spread the word about God farther.
There are always difficulties in Christian ministry, at whichever level you're involved in it, from church cleaner to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There's always someone who'll find fault, and if like the Archbishop, you're a subject of media interest, then I should imagine Christian ministry can be very difficult indeed and perhaps something of a burden.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus calls for repentance, expects Peter and Andrew to drop their nets and follow him, and calls James and John to leave their Father Zebedee in the boat without so much as a "So long, see you later."
My task today is to issue that same call to repentance, that same call to radical obedience and decisive discipleship. For that call is urgent and cries out to be issued in all of its majesty and might.