After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
In the Gospel for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus announces the Kingdom of God is at hand. Minds must change and new beliefs must be formed. Waiting is over: the Kingdom of God is now.
Jesus needs people to get this Word out. He calls Peter and Andrew to leave their work and James and John to leave their family. They must follow him in his preaching and teaching of the Kingdom.
This “leaving” is the role of the first apostles, but it may not be the role of twenty-first century believers. The more travelled path is not to leave family and work but to live the Kingdom in the dynamics of family life and work life.
But what does it mean to live the Kingdom of God in family and work?
The Kingdom of God is a symbol for optimal human relationships, being with one another in ways that are grounded in inclusive love of God. But family and work life often spin off in less desirable ways. They slip into games of superiority and subjugation. One person dominates another for reasons that are partially known and largely unknown. We become caught in conflicts, reprisals, and antagonisms.
That is why Jesus preaches the need to repent and believe in this dream of the Kingdom of God. Part of this repentance is to move from letting things happen to a proactive stance of making them better. In our families and work, opportunities for betterment abound. The question is: will we seize them?
To seize them, we must become men and women of vigilant love. This demands courage and creativity, planting seeds and waiting for harvests, reaching out and holding firm. We may never know the sure-fire way to act in a given situation, but we must be ever attentive and active in order to find the openings for greater love and communion.
We cannot do this, unless we stay in touch with the Divine Reality at the center of our being. In order to change the outer world we need the resources of the inner world.
If the Kingdom of God is at hand, how do we reach out and welcome it?
© John Shea