A Casual Seaside Encounter

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:14-20
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 abandoned 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, open my heart to be prepared to encounter you in prayer today. 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Jesus Begins His Mission: Mark’s Gospel is all about people meeting Jesus and being impressed by him. He is trying to provoke the question in his readers, “Who is this?” and variations of this question occur all through the Gospels. We need to answer this question for ourselves too–not the answer we find in the Catechism or in books–but rather, “Who is Jesus for me?” When Jesus looks in our heart, what answer does he find there? The first few lines contain the essence of Jesus’s message. This is what all humanity has been waiting for—the coming of the Messiah. He calls everyone to be ready and respond to his call for repentance.
  1. He Calls Me Personally: Although Mark starts out stating Jesus’s mission in general terms, Jesus immediately began to make his mission personal. He talked personally to Simon and Andrew and then to James and John. He wanted them to share in his mission in a personal way. He asked them to become fishers of men. They respond immediately, dropping everything to follow him. His personal call to mission is how he approaches everyone.
  1. The Fascination of Jesus: The brothers reacted to Jesus in an unusual way. They dropped everything to follow him. They didn’t know what it meant to be “fishers of men.” Mark doesn’t tell us that they had met him before. Yet they left behind the work they had done all their lives and their families to follow Jesus. We see this kind of reaction over and over again. There was something beguiling in that personal contact with Jesus—something we can still experience today. We want to have this personal encounter with Jesus and be won over by him! We want to feel the fascination they felt!

Conversing with Christ: Lord, you met these humble fishermen and they were so fascinated by you that they left everything they valued in life to follow you. They felt it was worthwhile. Help me to experience you, in the same way, they–and so many who came after them–did, in my prayer life, in the sacraments, in Scripture, and in the acts of charity I perform each day. I want to be won over by you so profoundly that I am ready to leave everything in order to follow you!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a special effort in all my contact with you–in my prayer, the sacraments, Scripture, and charity–so I can be won over by you more than ever before.
For Further Reflection: All of Mark’s Gospel is about people meeting Jesus and being so impressed by him that their lives change forever, as well as St. Paul’s meeting with him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). More modern encounters occur in The Shadow of his Wings by Father Gereon Goldman and He Leadeth Me by Father Walter Ciszek.
Father James Swanson is from Miles City, Montana, joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1983, and currently works in Atlanta, Georgia. He enjoys books, craft beers, and extreme birding.

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