“Jesus with fishermen”
Jean van Orley
(1665 – 1735)
Cathedral of Sint-Salvador
14“After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near;
epent, and believe in the good news.’
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea —for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.”
The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, a couple of weeks ago, introduced us to the Gospel of Mark. This Gospel will accompany us throughout the Season of Ordinary Time. Last Sunday the Gospel of John narrated the call of Andrew and his brother Simon by Jesus. Now, we have a different account of the call of the First Disciples: Andrew and his brother Simon, and James and his brother John.
The first invitation in the Gospel passage is a call to repentance, to a change life (metanoia); while the second invitation is to believe the Good News, to follow him, that is, to become his disciples.
Repentance is not an easy task in life as it is not just about doing penance for our sins. It literally means ‘a change of mind’.
In order to be able to understand this, we need to consider the difference between sin and its consequences:
We are usually far more sorry for the far-reaching repercussions of our sins, rather than for the sins themselves.
If we were able to prevent the evil consequences of our sins, would we not be prone to commit sin more easily? It seems that it is not the sin that we really regret, but rather its consequences.
Real repentance means we are truly sorry for sin itself and not only for the consequences of such sin. Sorrow for sin and sorrow for the consequences of sin are two different things.
The Good News
Jesus came to bring the Good News to us all.
If we study the word Evangelion, ‘Good News’ or ‘Gospel’ throughout the New Testament, we find different meanings:
1. It is Good News of Truth. In the Old Testament it was not possible to have any certainty about the identity of God.
“O that I knew where I might find Him”, cried Job. Jesus however, revealed who God is. We no longer need to guess or imagine who God is. In Jesus we know what we need to know about God for in Him we find the Truth about God.
2. It is Good News of hope. The ancient world tended to be pessimistic. Humanity was at a loss in its search for goodness. The coming of Jesus brings hope to the hopeless heart.
3. It is Good News of peace. The human person does not need to be divided between good and evil. Christ conquers for us the enemy of sin. In Him we find peace.
4. It is Good News of God’s promise. It is true that the tendency has always been to think of a God of punishment rather than a God of promises. Only Christianity tells of a God who is more ready to give than we are to ask.
5. It is Good News of immortality. Life, to an unbeliever, inevitably ends with death; however, Jesus brought us the Good News that death is not the end, we are on the way to life, life eternal.
6. It is Good News of salvation. Salvation is not only liberation from punishment, an escape from sin; Salvation is rather the power to live in the joy of having conquered sin and death definitively.
The message of Jesus is Good News indeed!
In the first chapter of Mark, we find the word ‘believe’. ‘Believe’, says Jesus, ‘in the Good News.’ To believe in the Good News simply means to take Jesus at his word:
1. To believe that God is just as Jesus has told us;
2. To believe that God so loved the world that He will do anything to bring us back to Himself;
3. To believe that what sounds too good to be true is indeed true.
Followers of Jesus, the Lord
Having taken the decision to begin his Public Ministry, and having decided about the way He was going to carry it out, Jesus proceeds to build up a group of followers around Him.
Like others who seek to lead, Jesus must begin somewhere and so He decided to gather together a group of people whom He considered friends and not servants. By calling his disciples Jesus is literally laying the foundations of his kingdom because they will be the pillars upon which He will build his Church.
They were fishermen
The First Disciples were fishermen, ordinary people who had to work hard for their living. They presented fish to Jesus at the multiplication of the loaves and Jesus was offered fish to eat after the Resurrection by the Lake of Galilee.
They were simple, uneducated folk. They were not drawn from the religious elite or the aristocracy of their society. They were neither learned nor wealthy. No one ever believed in ordinary men and women as Jesus did.
Jesus told them, ‘Follow me!’
This was probably not the first and only occasion that He had stood before them.
No doubt they had stood in the crowd and listened to him on other occasions.
No doubt they had stayed to talk long after the rest of the crowd had gone away.
Evidently, they had already felt the magic of his presence. That is why Jesus could tell them ‘Follow me!’ and they followed him at once. Jesus could then invite them to serve by becoming fishers of men. The Disciples carried on the task of Jesus after his death and resurrection. Their only purpose was to serve and give the best of themselves in service to others, not counting the cost, even to the shedding of their blood.
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
Here I am Lord, you have called me to follow you.
Send me your Holy Spirit to open my eyes
to see what I need to change
or leave behind to follow you more closely.
Make me receptive to your Word
and willing to take steps
that will bring me closer to you.
The Greek word ‘metanoia’ (convert, conversion) does not primarily mean ‘doing penance’, but rather ‘a change of life’.
The Spirit of God comes to help us, to make something new within us. We can see the Power of this Spirit always at work in our lives.
“Trust” and “believing” go hand in hand. We believe because we trust. We trust in the Gospel, in Jesus who saves and liberates us.
Jesus touched the hearts of his First Disciples. He was a man able to observe and to contemplate. He looked at people, what they did, how they talked and interacted with others. Jesus was a man of the people who liked mixing with the poor and uneducated.
Jesus has touched our own hearts too. Following Him is not just about “giving” some time to God or to the Church, good and necessary though this is; it is about committing one’s entire life to bringing about the Kingdom of God.
People of a certain age and experience, like ourselves, run the risk of behaving as if we have already acquired sufficient knowledge and wisdom to be able to get on well with life. However, Jesus comes time and again to ask us to become his disciples, to learn from Him, to discover new paths in life. Jesus awakens within us the capacity to explore the wonder of being truly human.
The faithful Follower of Jesus cannot ignore the call to invite others to Jesus as s/he has been called, for in Him there is fullness of love and life
 Galatians 2: 5: “To them we deed not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” Colossians 1: 5: “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you.”  Job 23: 3: “Oh, that I knew where I might find him.”  Colossians 1:23: “Provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope laid up for you in heaven”.  Ephesians 6:15: “Having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace.”  Ephesians 3:6: “That is how. The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  2 Timothy 1:10: “And now has manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Ephesians 1:13: “In him you also, who have Heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised of Holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 6: 38. 42: “And when they had found out, they said ‘five bread and two fish.’ And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces of bread and the fish.” Luke 24: 42: “They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.” Luke 11: 11: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent.” Matthew 7: 10: “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”