‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men’

Third Sunday of the Year B

In this reading we hear how the first disciples respond immediately to Jesus’ summons, leaving their work and their family ties behind without reluctance. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Mark 1:14-20

14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. 15 ‘The time has come,’ he said, ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
16 As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ 18 And at once they left their nets and followed him.
19 Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once 20 and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Other readings: Jonah 3:1-5,10 Psalm 24 (25) I Corinthians 7:29-31


This Sunday we begin our reading of the gospel laid down to be read on Ordinary Sundays this year, the Gospel according to Mark, the first and the shortest of the four gospels.

Mark begins his gospel without any reference to the birth or early life of Jesus. A short account of the ministry of John the Baptist is followed by the story of the baptism of Jesus and a brief reference to his temptation in the desert. Our passage begins with Jesus in Galilee proclaiming the ‘good news’ or ‘gospel’ of God. Jesus declares the coming of ‘the time’ and of ‘the kingdom of God’. The essence of his preaching is that the time of fulfilment, the long-awaited time, has arrived. God’s kingdom, God’s rule, is coming. The power of evil and of sin will be challenged, and overcome. This will be the constant theme of the words and deeds of Jesus in Mark. The first half of the gospel is set mostly in the northern region of Galilee. It is here that the gospel is first heard and first welcomed.

Our reading continues with the call of the first disciples. They are taken away abruptly from their daily work of fishing. They respond immediately to Jesus’ summons. They do not show the reluctance which Jonah showed (first reading). The call of Jesus is irresistible. We learn the names of the first four disciples, the brothers Simon and Andrew, and the brothers James and John. They abandon both their work, and their family ties. Something momentous is happening in their lives. It is amid the preoccupations of each day that the Lord calls his disciples, and calls them by name.

What was it like when you first understood and welcomed the message of the good news?

What has been your response to the call of Jesus at times of crisis or turning points in life?

We pray for a deeper appreciation that the good news of Jesus really is good news.

We pray for an understanding that only through God’s goodness can our lives be free from worry and full of happiness.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy