Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 22, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 1:14-20

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. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the gospel of the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, the passage at Mark 1:14-20, Jesus calls James and John to come follow him, so they might become, “fishers of men.” From various passages in the gospels, it is clear that Jesus sees his call to follow him as far more important than the ordinary obligations of survival and even the natural affections within families.

The case of the call of James and John is quite to the point. James and John were fishermen who apparently worked in the family trade along with their father Zebedee and his hired men. The ownership of a boat and the employment of men suggest the family business had enjoyed some measure of success, but since the family still worked, their futures apparently were not secure. The gospel records that James and John, upon hearing Jesus’ call, simply walked away from their father, the family business, the boat, and the hired men. To follow Jesus, they abandoned the ordinary obligations of survival and turned their back on the natural affections that tied them to their father.

Elsewhere, when Mark describes the call and provides the names of the 12 apostles, we are told that James and John are the sons of thunder. One well can imagine that Zebedee’s reaction at the departure of his sons from the family business was explosive. Fathers often do not react well when their sons leave their chores to pursue activities they associate with leisure. Jesus in other gospel passages reflects that he has come as a sign of contradiction: “Do you imagine that I have come to bring peace?” No, he tells us but rather a sword that divides mother against daughter and father against son. Our Lord perhaps had in mind a reminiscence of Zebedee’s fiery reaction to his sons’ sudden departures from the family’s trade.

There is a lesson in all of this for us. How are we to understand the purpose of our lives? How are we to cooperate with the adventure? It is in reflection upon the events that fill our lives and the patterns that develop across the years. Jesus clearly came to understand his mission through the events that took place in his life. Jesus recognizes that he stirs opposition and even division in families, but he tells us that his mission is more important than the tensions he creates.

Dorothy Sayers, the Anglican author and humanist who died in 1957, once wrote,

I believe it to be a great mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it . . . We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever his peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.

Let us never be afraid to stir controversy on behalf of the vision we believe God has given us. The call that each of us received in baptism to become “fishers of men” is not for the feint of heart.

Spiritual reading of the day: What is a faithful man to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God .Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good. (William Joseph Chaminade)

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