We at St. Mary Magdalen are blessed to have two priests who are able to pack a whole lot of meaning into their sermons and not have to take more than a couple of minutes to do this. They are very good at this “art” of public speaking. But after reading today’s Gospel, they are pikers when it comes to Jesus Christ himself.
The Old Testament is made up of 926 Chapters, 23,214 Verses and 622,770 words…I stayed up late last night counting each one. It was a late night because I did the same with the New Testament – 260 Chapters, 7,959 Verses and 184,600 words. So where am I going with all this…Jesus was able to sum up the entire Bible in 19 – 19 – words…
“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
And if you don’t think Jesus packed any power with His words, read today’s Gospel again…
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
One simple statement – “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – was enough to make 4 men, Peter, Andrew, James and John drop everything – leave it all behind – and follow Christ. I simply ask my kids to take the trash out and I’m met with resistance.
That call to come after Christ was not just meant for Peter, Andrew, James and John either; nor was it just meant for the additional 8 Apostles He gathered with them. It is a call to all of us. If we chose to follow Christ then we must also recruit for Christ too. Take a look at how Bishop Barron explains it…
Friends, our Gospel today is Jesus’ inaugural address, setting the tone for the whole of his preaching. Mark tells us that he was proclaiming the Good News of God, and that this was “the time of fulfillment.”
Something was being brought to completion. What was it? It was everything that the Old Testament had spoken of. Jesus gathered up in his person everything that Israel was about—and this is why his presence was so compelling and why following him was of paramount importance. This is why he says, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” The Good News is him. So now it’s time to make a decision.
Friends, this is the whole story. Everything else is commentary. We are meant to see ourselves in Simon and Andrew, in James and John. When Jesus passes by, we have to respond. The time is now. They got this, and that’s why they responded so promptly.
Now here’s the catch: to follow him means to do what he does, to call other people to the kingdom. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” That line is addressed to all of us, to all the baptized, to all the disciples.
Do something great for our Lord today – repent and believe in the Gospel; come and follow Him; become a fisher of men.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.