January 25, 2015: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They, too, were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
They left their father, Zebedee, in the boat, along with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20)
This Gospel story is amazing in its matter-of-fact account of fishermen, known to be a tough breed—loyal to their craft, proud of the family business, committed to their way of life—responding so quickly, seemingly without hesitation or much thought, to the invitation from Jesus to leave all and follow him with the promise of being fishers of men. Zebedee was left behind; Simon and Andrew just abandoned their nets.
What could be so compelling that these men would give up a way of life which they likely had always known, especially after the arrest of John, to follow Jesus. And yet………
It’s not clear what Jesus’ words, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” meant to these men. We will likely never know. They surely were aware of what Jesus had been teaching—care for the poor; healing of the sick; the inclusion of all in the kingdom; the love of God, self and neighbor.
Our reading today from our vantage point doesn’t find much revolutionary in those words. In that time and place, however, it was revolutionary, and dangerous enough to threaten the lives of Jesus and his followers. We will likely never know the motives of these men Jesus called. We do know they all paid a price for their willingness to go and follow him. Could their story be ours as well?
Reflect on Jesus’ words of invitation to us.
What are we willing to say? What are we willing to do? When are we willing to do it?