You’ve heard us say the Ordinary time is a time for teaching. We listen to the word of the Lord and from that we not only learn about our faith...what we believe, but also how we are to act on those beliefs.
Today’s a good example, because the theme here is discipleship.
A disciple is a follower. We’re not talking about being a blind follower. Discipleship requires faith. The disciple must believe in what he is following. Catholic teaching will also throw in reason as well. Many Catholics who have come from different faith traditions have told us how there explortation..there use of reason...helped them reach the conclusion that Catholicisim fit their faith to a tee. But the key requirement is faith.
This is because discipleship is a response of faith in the love of God. Discipleship, as a faithful person will attest, demands a response. The disciple knows God’s love so personally that he wants to respond to it, and he does respond to it in a way that God asks him to.
The story line of Mark’s gospel is very simple. Jesus has come to Galilee proclaiming the gospel. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” And people responded.
Sounds simple. Also sounds like Jonah’s message to Nineveh as well. And people responded.
We hear things and see things from time to time in our lives that spark our faith. Someone says something and the light comes on. Someone does something and the spark of faith turns into a flame. These are the same responses of the people of Nineveh and Galillee.
In Nineveh, the Assyrians become disciples by the act of donning sack cloth and ashes. Their repentance is an act of faith, turning their backs on their old lifestyle to embrace a life of faith in Yahweh.
Jonah is a disciple, too, because despite his fear, cynicism, and generally negative outlook, he responds to the Lord by doing as the Lord asks. A response of faith.
As Jesus preaches the good news in Gallilee, he calls Simon and Andrew, and James and John from their fishing businesses to become fisher of men. His messsage sparked them. They responded in faith. They certainly werent responding to any pay and benefit package!(As fishermen, they were equivalent to successful people running small businesses in our time,)
In all these men...Jonah, Andrew, James, John, Simon...the Lord’s presence in some way set their hearts on fire and they responded in faith. the love of God overcame whatever issues they had...as we see in Jonah, especially...and they responded in the love of doing his will.
In the promise of our baptism, we are called to be disciples as well. We are called to be like Jonah, Andrew, James, John and Simon and respond to God’s love with love. We are to go and share and to show others the Gospel of the Lord. This is discipleship. This is our response to God’s love. Our faith is nourished and grows if we choose it to be, and as it does we too will have the courage to abandon our nets and be fishers of men.
POST HOMILY NOTE: I think Jonah is cynical, fearful, critical, and faithful. Sounds like someone I know.