The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
In the Gospel, two sets of brothers upon meeting Jesus immediately leave their prosperous fishing enterprises to follow him. The Evangelist Mark wants to portray that their initial response to Jesus was as through and complete as the Ninevites. They had to leave behind their old ways to join the new society that Jesus was forming. Andrew and Peter abandon their nets, showing their willingness to go all in for the life Jesus promises them. James and John leave their father and his employees and walk away from their society’s familiar structures to join the new family that Jesus is creating. They are leaving a great deal behind, but Jesus calls them to a new place in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of God is the object of the preaching of Jesus. For him, it is the ideal community where God is the head and the people live in a manner that God desires for them. It is a community that is open to all types of people and centers around believing in Jesus as the unique revealer of God, but it involves a rejection of the belief system they held previously. Everyone in this new community is to be treated with mercy and equality, and God will rule over them as a benevolent parent who will guide each person along the path of truth. The psalmist reinforces this providence when he writes, “Guide me in your truth and teach me.”
Jesus preaches that the Kingdom of God is in its fullness right now, which means we are to respond immediately. The Ninevites repented upon hearing Jonah’s remarks, and the fishermen’s nets were widened to include men and women from many nations, just because they said “yes” to God’s plan. We are much better off if we can say “Yes” without hesitation or concern for the consequences, but it is so hard to trust the future unknowns. Sometimes we are efficient planners and we cannot take on any more activities.
In my years of priesthood, I see that people want to believe. They want to learn God’s will and to trust it when it is offered. They want to know for certain how God speaks to them. They want to know that is it not just their own imaginary voice, but God’s authentic voice. Some considerations keep them away from God or from the church, and many realize that in the long run those concerns are insufficient reasons, but sometimes we are stuck in our lives just fishing or mending our nets. How do you need to pull away from this world’s ways so you can live more fully in God’s world? Do you want to train your ear to believe fully in our God’s call for you? For the moment, don’t worry about how. Just say “yes” and let your imagination engage with what that will look like. Just say to God, “I want more. I want more now.”
but rather of power and love and self-control.