Mission Society of the Philippines



Mk 1: 14-20

THE BAPTISM OF Jesus by John at the River Jordan marked the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. In the gospel today, we heard about the preaching of Jesus. His brand of preaching is in continuation of the prophetic tradition, and in fact, there is a similarity between the “cry” of John the Baptist and Jesus. John cried out, “Repent and be baptized”, while Jesus’ was “Repent and believe in the gospel.”

Let us reflect on the important points we find in the gospel passage:

First of all, the preceding part of the gospel speaks about the preaching of Jesus about the dawning or coming of the kingdom of God. That was the heart of his preaching. In the words of Jesus, there are two requirements for membership in God’s kingdom: one is conversion (repent) and the other is faith (believe).

In other words, for a person who wants to be included in the kingdom of God, it is necessary that he should be a renewed person. He is a person who repents and embraces conversion. This conversion is brought about by one’s relationship with Jesus. A person who accepts Jesus as his Lord must not cling to his old, sinful ways, but rather he must become a new person in Christ. The other requirement is faith. Faith is simply understood here as an acceptance of the message and words of Jesus, and eventually, the Person of Jesus.

Secondly, the latter part of the gospel passage speaks about the calling of the two sets of brothers: Simon and Andrew, and James and John. The vocation story of these brothers simply shows that discipleship or the disciples are a band of brothers. We can learn something on “how” these two sets of brothers have been called.

The four disciples were fishermen. Very ordinary! Now, when Simon and Andrew were called by Jesus, the response was “they abandoned their nets and followed him”. And when James and John were called, the response was, “they left their father Zebedee in the boat, along with the hired men, and they followed him”.

On the one hand, the response of Simon and Andrew speaks about the first consequence of discipleship. That is, abandoning the nets. The nets speak about the occupation of the two brothers. The nets are a source of their livelihood. Thus, the nets or fishing is very important. But if one decides to follow Jesus, livelihood or occupation is to be sacrificed. There are stories of doctors, engineers, teachers, among others, who decided to leave their lucrative careers in exchange of priesthood. They were also lady nurses, teachers, architects, among others, who abandoned their lucrative profession and entered the convent. They have sacrificed their jobs because they wanted to follow Jesus.

On the other hand, the response of James and John speaks about the second consequence of discipleship, that is, the abandoning of relationships. James and John left their father Zebedee. And this is true for those who decided to follow Jesus. Relationships are being sacrificed. If one is assigned somewhere, a priest or a sister has to leave his family. He or she experiences the pain of leaving his or her parents and siblings. And it is not easy. But because they decided to follow Jesus, then they are willing to sacrifice.

This vocation story is true to priests, brothers and nuns. But how about the laity? What is the significance of the vocation story of the four disciples to theirs? Well, an important point here is sacrifice. Certainly, once a lay person is called, he or she should not abandon his or her occupation. Likewise, he or she should not leave his or her family. However, they can still serve in the vineyard of the Lord. And in serving, they can also make little sacrifices. For instance, if one is involved in the Parish Pastoral Council, the person has to make some sacrifices of his or her precious time. If there are projects which entail funds, then they also make some sacrifices by sharing some amount to a certain project. In doing these, they become also disciples of Jesus. AMEN.

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