Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, serves as pastor of St. Viator Parish in Chicago, a diverse parish on Chicago’s west side that dates back more than 125 years. Each week, he offers a reflection and this one is particularly timely given the new year and new administration.

“The gospel according to Matthew will be the primary source for our gospel readings this year. Today we learn about the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry, after his baptism and after his forty days of preparation in the desert.

“Matthew tells us that Jesus moved from Nazareth to the city of Capernaum to begin his public work and that it was at the nearby Lake of Galilee that he chose his first followers, Peter, Andrew, James and John. ‘Come after me,’ he said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’

“It was both an invitation and a promise. All four men seem to have responded immediately, leaving their nets and their boats to follow him.

“Would you have done the same? Maybe, maybe not.

“New beginnings can be hopeful but they can also be full of anxiety and fear. Our nation now has a new President and a new administration, a fact which I know creates both of those responses among some people.

“Citizens, like disciples, cannot be passive. We must lift our voices in prayer for those in leadership and for the well-being of our country. We must participate as citizens in all of our rights and responsibilities, make our efforts count and our voices heard, support the ideals of our founding documents, protect those who are at risk, and use our moral consciences to form our opinions and judgments rather than public opinion or partisanship.

“Above all, we must remain people of hope, rooting our trust in the power and promise of Jesus ‘to be with us always.’ “