Follow That Impulse

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 24, 2021 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark1:14-20

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I live in Montana where many of my friends, acquaintances and neighbors love to do two things: hunt and fish. Winters are for hunting. Summers are for fishing. Many homes are decorated with stuffed trophies gained on trips into the wild. But I grew up in a midwestern city where very few hunted and fished. My dad was a golfer and hunting and fishing meant hunting for lost golf balls hidden in the weeds or fishing for them submerged in the water. But I digress.

Today’s gospel is about four fishermen who fished not for sport but for their livelihood. Theirs was a family operation. A business. Dads taught their sons how to fish. It was serious schooling. Their survival, along with those who bought part of their catch, depended on this rich supply of protein and nourishment. And it was honorable work, something one could be proud of especially after a good day’s catch.

So, one day Jesus walks where the fishing boats are moored and calls to four young fishermen to leave their boats - and their livelihoods - and follow him. He tells them that he will make them “fishers of men,” as if that would explain why they should walk away from their profession and hit the open road with him. In a sense this story sounds a little “fishy.” (Sorry, couldn’t help that reference.)

And it should be. Because there are times when many of us do something unpredictable on the spur of the moment. Or we act out of character. And sometimes those acts are very good, even extraordinarily so. The lives of saints (both those officially recognized and those unknown) often include spontaneous acts of goodness, even those involving heroic virtue. We also know of first responders who risk their lives to save others. Many incredible acts of generosity might be judged as foolish but end up being life-saving acts.

The gospels are filled with dramatic acts of virtue, especially those done by Jesus himself. After all, in the end, he gave his life for us. So let’s take this account of those fellows who set aside their precious nets and whole lives up to that time and took a different path. And think about times when we did something good that others might have negatively judged, but we knew that sometimes you simply have to be a little crazy for God.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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