Pope Francis has declared this Sunday, 'the Sunday of the Word of God.' When we compare the Gospel last week to the Gospel this week, we learn something important about the Word of God. Last week, St. John's account of how Andrew and Simon Peter meet Jesus showed us the Truth that God acts first. God is the one who chooses disciples. This week, St. Mark's account of Jesus calling Andrew and Simon Peter shows us the same Truth. However, we quickly notice that the two accounts are not the same. The details do not match at all. Some people will try hard to make the two accounts fit together, but we do not need to worry so much about this. The writers of the Gospels are not as concerned about facts as they are concerned about Truth. They do not recount the news; they proclaim the Good News. St. Mark's account shows us the Truth that God chooses disciples, but it also shows us something more.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
From the very first word of this Gospel passage we get the sense that time is important. The time of John the Baptist has passed. Now is a new time.
The time is fulfilled.
The Greek word that St. Mark uses for time here, kairos, brings with it a sense of opportunity. There is a ripeness about this time, like a fruit finally ready for eating, so full of juice it is about to burst. One moment more, though, and the time will have passed, the fruit will have spoiled.
We can wonder what Jesus means by the strange phrase, "The Kingdom of God has come near." How can a kingdom move? Does it float around? We have wondered before whether the Kingdom of God is not so much a place, as a time. Perhaps the Kingdom is this kairos moment. If so, we do not want to miss the opportunity, we do not want the juice of the fruit to spoil.
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
This next scene also begins with a word referring to time. That word "as" means it happens right now. Simon and Andrew seem to have a sense of this kairos moment. They do not hesitate, but respond immediately. Jesus passes along right now; one moment more and they might lose the opportunity. Jesus calls them to something that moves, something that happens. They waste no time.
As Jesus went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
St. Mark makes it clear that Jesus is in motion. Perhaps he does not hurry, but the time for waiting has passed. It happens now. He calls his disciples immediately. This begins his ministry on earth. The Kingdom of God moves, and Jesus calls the disciples to action.
This kairos moment of the Gospel, is it gone? Has it passed? Or does the Kingdom of God come near to us even now, calling us also to action? We know the Kingdom of God is not yet complete. God gives us the opportunity to work together with God to build the Kingdom in all its fullness. Like Simon and Andrew, like James and John, God calls us where we are and who we are.
But when? How will we know when God calls us to work?
What does St. Mark make clear to us? Jesus is in motion; it happens now. In this moment, and in this next—in each moment—Jesus moves and invites us to act with him. God gives us the opportunity to act, to choose to follow. We do not wish to miss it; we do not want the moment to spoil. The fullness, the ripeness is now.