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95. Fishing for Fishermen (Mark 1:14-20)

February 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“Indeed, as all know, for the spread of God’s kingdom Jesus Christ used no other weapon than the preaching of the gospel, that is, the living voice of his heralds, who diffused everywhere the celestial doctrine.” - Pope Benedict XV

Mark 1:14-20: After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come,’ he said, ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’ 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. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. 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 and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Christ the Lord  Jesus Christ ushers in the third age in the history of humanity. First there was the age of creation, when mankind lived in the fullness of communion with God and the freshness of an absolute beginning. This ended with original sin and the subsequent fall from grace, after which the second age began, the age of the Promise. God promised Adam and Eve that he would send a Savior to free the human family from domination by the devil (cf. Genesis 3:15). In this second age, God gradually prepares the world through the education of his chosen people, Israel, for the arrival of Jesus Christ, whose advent marks the time of fulfillment (“the time has come” – the third age), when God actually enters into time and space in order to rescue it from sin and destruction. The end of this third age will yield the new heavens and the new earth, the definitive and final victory of Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

As pressing and absorbing as current affairs may seem to the men and women of every historical epoch, it is the presence and action of Jesus Christ in and through his Church that gives the human story its true meaning and propels its fundamental drama. All things hinge on Jesus Christ, because he alone holds the key to communion with God, and only that can satisfy the human heart.

Evidence of his continuing intervention in history surrounds us. One of the most eloquent signs is the ongoing flow of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Just as Jesus called his apostles to leave everything and follow him two thousand years ago, so he continues to call men and women today. Each vocation is proof of his Lordship, proof that the King still reigns. Asking the Lord to keep calling, and asking him to give courage and faith to those he calls, should be a part of every Christian’s prayer life – nothing bolsters the Kingdom more.

Christ the Teacher  “The Kingdom of God” is one of Christ’s most frequently used phrases. He came to establish it, he rules it, and he taught us to pray constantly for its coming (“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”). In his initial announcement of its arrival, Jesus gives us the first lesson about what it entails.

“The Kingdom of God is close at hand,” he proclaims, and then he adds, “repent and believe the Good News.” The “Kingdom of God” merely refers to wherever things are done God’s way, wherever his will and his heart infuse life into the souls of men and women. To repent means to turn away from doing things our own, selfish way (which is the way we tend to do things ever since Adam and Eve set the unfortunate precedent). To believe in the Good News means to trust that God’s way, God’s will, is the best choice. If we trust in the love, wisdom, and power of God, we will have the courage to fashion our lives according to his standards (which are made clear and practical in the Church’s teachings). If we recognize our own limitations and selfish tendencies, we will have the necessary humility to repent. If we want to enter this Kingdom and share in its unequaled vitality and meaning, we simply need to trust in God more than ourselves – over and over again.

Christ the Friend  From St. John’s Gospel we know that Jesus had already met and spent time with the four apostles whom he calls so suddenly in this passage. It’s important to keep this in mind: far from unexpectedly demanding an irrational abandonment of family, career, and previous plans, Jesus built up a relationship of mutual knowledge and trust before he invited Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become his full-time disciples.

Likewise, only as we cultivate a true friendship and an intimate and ongoing exchange of hearts with our Lord will we be able to hear and heed his call in our life. This is not a God who demands blind obedience to his awesome power; this is Jesus Christ, true man, who meets us right where we are and walks along the shore of our lives, who wishes to get to know us, to spend time with us, and to call us by our names. This is a Lord and God who wants our friendship, so that he can share his life with us.

Christ in My Life  It’s so easy to lose sight of you in my life, Lord. You exercise your authority so gently. I know that history hinges on you, and yet, I still let myself get worried and angry and perturbed by minutiae. Jesus, increase my faith, strengthen my hope, and enlighten my mind – make me your convinced and formidable disciple.

I have heard your call in my life, Jesus, more than once. You have looked into my eyes and invited me to follow you more closely, just as you did with the apostles. Thank you for coming into my life. I am sorry for the times I have been unfaithful. Call me again, Lord, today, so that I can show you my love and loyalty by leaving behind everything that’s not your will.

You called these apostles because you wanted to give them a mission in life, something so worthwhile that you didn’t hesitate to invite them to leave their careers and their families. You have given me a mission too. Thank you, Lord, for giving me direction and meaning. Make me a fisher of men for your Kingdom.


PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". He has also published two other titles: "Meditations for Mothers" and "A Guide to Christian Meditation". Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at and questions and answers on the spiritual life at FATHER JOHN'S BOOKS include: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer", Inside the Passion--The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Meditations for Mothers, and A Guide to Christian Meditation.

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  • Mary@42

    Thank you, Father John for this Post. It is just what I need as I begin the Lenten Season, examining where I am failing to answer Christ’s Call due to the distractions and the cacophony of the world’s clanging noises or where I am falling short in the performance of the Mission He has given me as an Eucharistic Apostle of His Divine Mercy

  • Antonius

    Beautiful post!

    “One of the most eloquent signs is the ongoing flow of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.”  Did you forget to mention the Diaconate?  I just feel there are many men being called to become Deacons, but they are not hearing the call, either in prayer from Jesus or indirectly from other people (on web sites like this).


  • A Friend

    Father John, I am confused. Jesus said he is the way the truth and the light, but the Church has moved away from believing salvation lies only in the Church. Even learned people in the Church (my Spiritual Director included) now say that God is bigger than we can comprehend so we need to be open to the possibility that God is calling even those outside the Church. It makes the line very gray as to the purpose of evangelization. Can you comment? Thank you. 

  • judeen

    am I on a managers list? i can hardly get on any more.. sorry if I offended any one…

  • John C.

    Fr. John,
    Thank you for being a priest.

  • Pat Hanley

    Thank you Fr John. This facility is such an amazing grace.  I just acquired “THE BETTER PART”. My initial delve has filled me with excitement. The structure looks like what I need. The fact that you are here is an amazing blessing too. My journey from 7 years includes Louie De Montford, John Paul 11, St.Faustina, Fr Jim McManus, Fr Iain Mathews. I am in the midst of St John of The Cross and St Teresa of Avila. So Dan Burke and your goodself will keep me from spiritual suffocation. My lopsided ladder (depicted in the webinar) will surely be straightened out. God Bless your great work.

  • Noemi Madalang

    Thank you for such a reminder always……..about Jesus…..and to my belief in Him…..

  • Ana

    It is 2:00AM and I could not sleep because I was worried about something, then I asked Our Lord to help me, and sure enough, He gave an answer. Then I read your post Fr. John and found this:” The kingdom of heaven merely refers to wherever things are done God´s way….” Thank you.

  • danburke

    Great question. I have submitted it to Fr. John. It may take a while but if you subscribe you will see the answer!