The Call to Serve

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

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

The call to serve we can’t ignore,
It’s not ours but God’s decision;
If Christ is knocking at our door,
We’ve been chosen for a reason.

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. (Mark 1:14-20)

Reflection

The Jews had been waiting for the fulfillment of salvation that God had promised through the prophets. Israel had been a great nation during the reign of King David and King Solomon. But because of its infidelities, Israel was in turn subdued and 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 much higher calling of reorienting their whole being 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 (Mark 13:12) – 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 ourselves and our resources to the less privileged, or to the victims of a natural calamity. This our community’s brothers and sisters have been doing in response to the destruction caused by the super typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental and the Compostela Valley. Ten couples spent the whole Tuesday night repacking foodstuffs and basic needs into sacks good for two hundred families. Two days later two brothers brought the goods, together with some building materials to the town of Baganga, enduring the eight-hour land trip from Davao City. This was the third trip that our community had made to the affected areas. And our chapter is determined to continue with these relief efforts as long as donations keep coming from generous souls. The call to serve the unfortunate is what sustains their hope for salvation.

Yes, the kingdom of God is here. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” It is within everyone 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 lost much in life may learn to have hope in God and His kingdom because of their sacrifice.

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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