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Friday, February 20, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 1:14–20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (NRSV)

The spare quality of this account of Jesus’ recruitment of his first four disciples belies the radical nature of the decision made by each of them. Really? All Jesus had to do was ask once, and each man simply walked away from the life he knew to follow a man who had only recently begun his ministry in Galilee? How utterly incomprehensible to us, and what a testament to the power of Jesus and the message he was imparting as he traveled about.

I envy the decisiveness and clarity of commitment demonstrated by these four men. I’d like to think that if Jesus showed up on my doorstep today, urging me to drop everything and “fish for people,” I’d leap at the chance to join him. However, I must admit that I find it difficult to imagine myself so totally captivated by anyone’s message that I would embark on an immediate reordering of my entire life. I’m sure that most people are the same. Each of us can easily cite many obligations or circumstances—jobs, family, real estate, health issues—that would preclude our taking the kind of bold step these disciples took, much as we might be moved to do so.

I choose not to beat myself up over my inability to consider as extreme a change of life direction as the one these disciples so willingly embraced. This passage, however, serves as a powerful reminder of the need always to try to react as radically as Jesus and his disciples in situations that cry out for mercy, compassion, and love. Demonstrate for justice, write political leaders, press a Chicago Shares voucher into an outstretched hand. Don’t be held back by prudence and caution, but, rather, seize every possible chance to express God’s love in our everyday lives.

Gracious and merciful God, grant me the resolve to act with decisiveness and boldness when confronted with injustice and evil in my everyday life. Help me to remember the example of these first disciples and to cast aside the inconsequential concerns of my own life as I seek justice and mercy for all of your children. Amen.

Written by Liz Kurman, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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