The National Catholic Review
"The time of fulfillment" which Jesus announces can well be understood as the fulfillment of the promise recorded by Jeremiah, that God would one day create a new Covenant with His people; it reflects the ’new covenant’ of the Last Supper, a covenant in ’My blood’. Such good news is this that Jesus calls others to help him announce this merciful act of the faithful God. Tell them the good news for which they have been longing! If sin is at the heart of man’s doomed world and self, now man should know that happiness is his, if he listens. As Mark envisions his story, disciples should be called immediately; contrary to this Marcan concept is that of Luke. When one looks at the story, the main question centers not on the four chosen; they were already known disciples, as Paul indicates in his letters. The main question has to do with the psychology evident or not evident in the way Mark tell of the calls to James and John, Peter and Andrew. Why, in short, should these four fishermen leave everything to follow Jesus, when they had not been introduced to him at all prior to these calls? The import of Jesus’ words suggests the answer and the deeper meaning of the event. Jesus commands (not invites) and these men obey – and obey totally. It is the Lord who calls, Mark indicates, and his subjects obey. If you wish, it is the Messiah and Son of God who calls; obedience to him can only be immediate and total. Could Mark have offered some psychological preparation for these calls? Yes, Luke has Peter witness Jesus’ teaching, Jesus’ miraculous powers; the response is logical: ’Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man’. Only with this encounter does Luke portray Jesus as calling Peter. Mark does not present the story this Lucan way. His intention is to emphasize to his audience that when the Lord speaks, the disciple obeys, and fully. This story reflects Jesus’ own obedience as he changed his entire life’s direction, when he had his call at his baptismal moment. Thus, do we start on the road that is unending obedience to God. As Mark’s readers already knew, there were others asked ’to leave all to follow Jesus’. But following Jesus is not defined this way. There are many disciples who do not physically leave all, as do these four fishermen, yet they are to reach the holiness of these four disciples. As Paul had already said, each of us has his gift (or call) from God; whatever it may be (and there are many varieties), we all look for the will of God, of Jesus, and obey – totally. Mark’s story then is more than a recollection of the names of four disciples; Mark’s way of telling these calls is exhortation: when the Lord commands, obey! In this obedience will you find good news. John Kilgallen, S.J.