Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Jesus had been baptized by his cousin, John. The heavens were torn open and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. The voice of God came from above and proclaimed that Jesus was his beloved Son. Then, Jesus was driven into the desert and tested by Satan for forty days.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mark 1:14-20), this is where we pick up the story. Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming a message of repentance and belief. As he passed the Sea of Galilee, he identified his first four disciples.
The brothers Simon and Andrew were fishermen. When Jesus came upon them, they weren’t resting or cooling off in the water. They were casting their nets into the sea. Not an easy task. I doubt they were in the mood to converse with a stranger as they worked to bring in a catch. Yet, when Jesus said, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” they abandoned their nets and followed him. They didn’t hesitate, clean up their gear, bring in the boat, or ask him to clarify. They immediately discarded the tools of their livelihood and accompanied the Lord.
Next, he saw the brothers James and John. They were also fishermen working on their nets. Jesus called them, they left their father and hired men, and followed. We don’t even know what he said to them but they instantly joined him. No questions. No goodbyes. No looking back.
Did the Holy Spirit open their hearts to Jesus’s call? Did they respond to something pure and perfect in him? What gave them the courage to leave everything familiar?
It’s difficult for me to comprehend the amount of conviction and trust that these men showed. We have the Bible, Church tradition, and saintly examples to feed our faith. We have centuries of theological studies. There are so many instruments available to help in understanding God and his great love for us…but I’m not sure I would follow a stranger with the eagerness of the first four apostles.
Thankfully, today, we aren’t asked to desert our families and jobs to walk with Jesus. But…we are called to spread his message, live as he taught us, and be as bold as Simon, Andrew, James, and John. We should toss aside hate, prejudice, and anger instead of fishing nets. We must turn away from dishonesty, insensitivity, and evil.
The disciples shadowed Jesus and learned by his example and instruction. They also stumbled along the way. They questioned him, betrayed him, ran from him, and denied him. But in God’s great mercy, they carried on his teachings. Because of these fishermen, we know the saving power of Christ’s grace.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
By: Maryrose Orange, Parishoner, Saint Vincent Basilica Parish, Latrobe