Activities in Preparation for This Week in the Liturgical Year
God spared the people of Nineveh because they heeded the message God sent through Jonah.
The Lord teaches us his ways.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Paul warns the Corinthians that they must act differently because the world in its present form is passing away.
Jesus calls the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, James and John, to be his disciples.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today we begin a continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel that will carry us through this segment of the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Remember that in Cycle B of the Lectionary, most of the Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel according to Mark.
The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a narrative about Jesus’ birth. Instead Mark begins by reporting on the preaching of John the Baptist. John is described as the voice in the wilderness sent to prepare the way of the Lord. Immediately after describing the work of John the Baptist, Mark reports on Jesus’ baptism and his temptation in the desert. Jesus’ public ministry begins after the arrest of John the Baptist. Mark wants his readers to understand the important connection between the end of the ministry of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ own ministry.
As we learn at the beginning of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God in continuity with the preaching of John the Baptist. Like John the Baptist, Jesus’ pronouncement of the kingdom is a call to repentance. Yet Jesus’ preaching is greater than John’s. Jesus begins the time of fulfillment; the Kingdom of God is already here. This will be demonstrated again and again, both in Jesus’ words and in the actions that follow. Jesus’ healings and forgiveness of sins are signs of the Kingdom of God that he announces in his teaching.
In contrast to last week’s Gospel, in Mark’s Gospel Jesus takes the initiative in calling his first disciples. As mentioned last week, it was more typical of first-century rabbinical schools for students to seek out rabbis, asking to be their disciples. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus breaks with this tradition and invites his disciples to learn from him. Jesus is said to have first called four fishermen—Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Simon and Andrew are brothers. Jesus promises that he will make them “fishers of men.” James and John are also brothers. Mark does not report Jesus' words of invitation to them, but he does report that they left their fishing immediately; their father, Zebedee, was left behind in the boat.
Mark’s Gospel is told with a great sense of urgency and immediacy. Jesus is a person of action, and events occur in rapid succession. We see this in today’s Gospel. Time is of the essence; the fishermen immediately put aside their livelihood to become Jesus’ disciples. The Kingdom of God is here and now. The time of fulfillment is at hand. How might our lives be different if we more fully shared this sense of the immediacy of God’s kingdom?