Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 Mark 1:14-20

"Follow me"

Last week we heard John's account of his first meeting with Jesus, how he and Andrew had spent time with him, got to know him and became his disciples. In today's Gospel Mark tells the same story but more abruptly: Jesus simply approaches them and says "Follow me". There is something more urgent, more demanding about Mark's account. Mark is writing in Rome, for fellow Christians who were living in fear of the terrifying persecutions inflicted on the Christian community by the Emperor Nero. He wants to give them courage, strengthen their faith. He wants them to hear afresh the invitation of Jesus to "Follow me". He is asking them to renew their commitment to Jesus - even to be ready, like Simon and the others, to leave everything behind to follow him.

Jesus invited his disciples to be "fishers of men", often understood as meaning to gain more followers for Jesus, to recruit more disciples. However, the expression comes from the prophets of the Old Testament. God's 'fishermen' will be God's agents who will hook on to, catch and bring to judgement, the rich and powerful who wickedly oppress and exploit the poor and needy. Mark wants his readers to know they share with Jesus in his struggle against the sinful ways of the world and in his work of building a new order, that of God's Kingdom of truth and love, justice and peace.

Today, that double invitation is passed on to us. We are challenged to "repent", that is to be open to thinking in new ways, to take to heart the message of the Gospel. And the call is to "follow me", that is to become part of the mission of Jesus, to be formed in his outlook and values, and to bring those values into the world around us.