At the beginning of the Gospel of Mark we encounter four fishermen. I know little about fishing but I am sure there are experts who could teach me a lot and who understand the work ethic of these men.
I am sure Peter and Andrew, James and John spent long hours on the sea and worked hard. The preparations beforehand, the fishing expeditions each day, and the cleanup afterward made for very long days. They probably had little time for other pursuits or for reflecting upon the meaning and purpose of their lives. Thus it seems all the more surprising that they immediately leave their nets and their lifelong occupation and follow Jesus simply because He invites them to be with Him.
There must have been something immensely attractive about the person of Jesus Christ that made them abandon everything. Peter had a mother-in-law so he must have had a family. James and John are the sons of Zebedee. Did they support their father? They left their father and the hired help in the boat. That is rather dramatic.
Another dimension of this story is also worth exploring. Despite their long hours and hard work they may have been dissatisfied with their lives. Perhaps while on the sea they each had time to think and to wonder about the meaning of their lives and where their lives were headed. As fervent Jews they would have heard about and awaited the Messiah. Did they think Jesus was the Messiah? Did they simply find Him so intriguing that they followed Him? Surely, they didn’t know where all this would lead.
Can you see yourself in the story? Can you identify with these fishermen? You might think about this on two levels. First, have you ever really spent time getting to know Jesus Christ? You can do so just by reading a passage of Scripture and not only hear what Jesus has to say but get to know Him as the one who is speaking to you. (Why not sign up for a course on prayer such as Oremus being offered at my parish, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, in early February)?
The second level has to do with the meaning and purpose of your life. Have you ever thought about this? I am not suggesting that you labor over this but I am suggesting that you can keep busy because you are afraid that if you stopped and thought about your life you would be overwhelmed by fear or emptiness.
Peter and Andrew, James and John were ordinary, hard-working people and their lives changed completely when they met Jesus Christ. Why not meet Jesus Christ and see what happens?
Rev. James M. McNamara