Sunday Gospel – Mark chapter 1, verses 14-20.
Jesus appears in Mark’s Gospel in verse 9, suddenly, dramatically, with no birth stories. Within five verses Jesus comes to Galilee with the arresting statement, ‘The time is fulfilled.’ This is therefore God’s great moment, prepared for and long promised. It is a turning point in all human history – maybe the turning point. God’s moment has arrived.
The Kingdom has come near. In contemporary thought the Kingdom was brought in by the righteous obeying the law. In Jesus’ ministry the Kingdom is God’s work, and seems to give a preference for the poor, the outcast the even children. This is revolutionary stuff, and the Gospel will further demonstrate this. But it does depend on humans to accept it, and the mark of this acceptance is repentance. So many people just assume God will smile on them; Jesus calls us definitely to repent.
Galilee was a thriving area for fishing, and it exported fish to many places in the Roman empire and the ancient world. Most days and nights the Sea of Galilee would have dozens of boats on it, perhaps hundreds. Jesus says, ‘Follow me.’ A rabbi would have waited until a prospective disciple asked him to allow them to study under him; Jesus issues a call, centred on himself – follow ME. In doing this Jesus was not following the Old Testament model – there the people of God were following God, not an individual. Jesus points to himself – because in fact he is God, God in human form.
The four fishermen drop their nets and step after Jesus. Often discipleship demands a quick and positive response to Jesus. We spend a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons of the Kingdom and by the time we have decided the crucial moment has passed. ‘The time is fulfilled’ – this is true for Simon and Andrew, for James and John. What did they know of the future – for three of them, martyrdom lay in the future, and for none of the disciples was the future to be easy. But this was their moment, and they seized it and became fishers of men. Seize the moment is the strapline of discipleship.