Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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By words, actions bring Jesus to others
Based on the Gospel of Mark 1:14-20
Going fishing – for fishermen! After his baptism by John the Baptist, followed by 40 days in prayer in the desert, and then John’s impri-sonment, Jesus leaves Nazareth to begin his public ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing – not in large cities like Jerusalem, Alexandria or Athens but in the little fishing village of Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee. Jesus proclaims, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Throngs of people gather to listen and follow him.
From St. John’s Gospel last week Sunday, we know Jesus previously met and spent time with the four disciples whom he will call suddenly in this Sunday’s Gospel of St. Mark. Jesus and the disciples gradually got to know and trust each other before Jesus revealed his identity as the Messiah and calls them to become his full-time apostles.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee and he sees two fishermen, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the sea. He calls out to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They leave their nets and follow Jesus.
Farther along the shore Jesus sees James and John who are in a boat mending fishing nets with their father, Zebedee. He calls out to them, too. They leave their father in the boat with the hired men and follow Jesus.
Two sets of brothers and the first four apostles. There are no interviews, no job descriptions, no salaries – just Jesus’ promise they will catch “bigger fish.” They drop everything and leave their families and the fishing business – boats, nets, crews and an important, thriving industry – to follow Jesus.
What did Jesus mean when he said, “I will make you fishers of men?” Growing in their knowledge and love for Jesus, the apostles will carry on his work, spread the teachings of Jesus and talk about God’s great love for all people, heal the sick and forgive sins. People will learn to know, to love and to follow Jesus.
For us, too, nothing is more important than following Jesus. We don’t need to leave anyone or anything. Jesus wants each of us to be witnesses to the Gospel and servants of his kingdom – right where we are. If we try wholeheartedly to be faithful in the little things Jesus asks of us each day, he will form us into disciples who can make a difference in the world just as the apostles did. By our words and actions we can bring others to Jesus. He continues to call, “Come after me.” and promises to be with us. All Jesus is looking for are open, trusting hearts!