The Call

Mark 1: 14-20
Heb 1: 1-6 / Psa 97

Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
(Mark 1:17)

Come, let us not procrastinate
The time that we await has come;
Repent that our eternal fate
Will be assured in God’s kingdom.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “This is the time of fulfillment,” He said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther, He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.

Reflection

For hundreds of years, the Jews had been waiting for the fulfillment of salvation that God had promised through the prophets. Israel had been a great nation from the time Moses brought it to the promised land, up to the reign of King David and King Solomon. But because of its infidelities, Israel was in turn subjugated by successive nations, like the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and up to the time of Jesus, by the Romans. Under the yoke of this mighty nation, the Jewish people had long been waiting for the promised Messiah, so that when Jesus proclaimed that “this is the time of fulfillment” and “the kingdom of God is near,” the first four apostles responded in earnest immediately.

Later, the apostles realized that the call to serve in the kingdom of God did not mean being drafted for political or military service. It meant a higher calling of reorienting their whole being in order to spread the Gospel of salvation. It meant sacrificing everything: their livelihoods, their family, and even their lives. Relationships would be compromised — “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name” (Mark 13:12-13) – but only because one’s true family in the kingdom of God are all who consider themselves God’s children. As Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt. 12:50).

We all hear and heed God’s call in various ways. It may be to enter the vocation of a religious life, or merely to serve in a renewal community. Or even to find time to give of yourself to the handicapped or less privileged. To celebrate her 60th birthday, my wife decided to spend time with the ‘residents’ of the Group Home for Girls & Women run by the Dept. of Social Welfare, and give them free lunch packs from Jollibee. Ellen, Nellie, Chat and Rey joined us in the center to give cheer to these unwed mothers and abused children. The occasion also provided an opportunity for us to share with the women the hope of the Good News of God’s kingdom.

Yes, the kingdom of God is here. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” It is within every one who regards others as his brothers and sisters; it is in the hearts of all who are willing to sacrifice an amount of their time, privilege, abilities and resources so that others who have less in life may learn to have hope in God and His kingdom because of their example.

Lord, in our hearts we hear Your call, and surrender to Your will. Grant that we may have the confidence and courage to leave the comforts of home, relationships, and privilege in order to become “fishers of men” for Your kingdom. Amen.

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