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.”
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 fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he 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. (Mark 1:14-20 – NRSV)
Both Matthew and Luke depend on these texts from Mark – see Matthew 4:12–17; Luke 4:14–15 and Matthew 4:18–22; Luke 5:1–11.
Jesus proclaims “the kingdom of God”. We must first of all recognize this as a theological rather than political proclamation. It is a statement of God’s intentions for the world that has been born of God’s love and goodness but needs redemption. The love and goodness of God does not reign in this world. Jesus, in his life and teaching, will lead us towards a way of being where truth replaces the lie, love replaces hatred, peace replaces violence and goodness replaces evil forever. The key to this work of redemption will be his dying and rising.
The “good news” is that the “reign of God” or the redemption of the world is assured in and through the being of this man from Nazareth.
Jesus summons people to be part of this process. At the heart of the call to discipleship is trust in him and his proclamation that “the kingdom of God has come near”.
The redemption of the world begins with the redemption of our inner world. The English word “repent” translates the Greek word metanoeo (μετανοέω). The noun is metanoia (μετάνοια). The call here is to live in such a way that God reigns in our hearts.
Jesus calls the first disciples in the midst of the ordinary stuff of their lives. God comes to us disguised as the ordinary!
How easy it is to think that the ordinary is not worth a second look, that “nothing” is happening there, that the real life is somewhere ‘out there” in the much more important things that I am doing or making …… . The truth of it is that the kingdom awaits us in the ordinary. A new world is coming into being under our noses if we care to stop and pay attention! The work of God is bringing about the victory of goodness and truth now, here in this place. “Repent and believe!”
“This new life in the kingdom of God is to be not merely a passively received inheritance but in some sense the fruit of our agony and labor, love and prayers in union with the Holy Spirit. Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has generally been left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and 20th centuries, but anyone who reads the New Testament objectively that this is the Doctrine of the first Christians. Indeed, Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without too much spiritual consistency. Unless all Christianity is centered in the victorious, living, and ever present reality of Jesus Christ, the Man God and conqueror of death, it loses its distinctive character and there is no longer any justification for a Christian missionary apostolate. In point of fact, such an apostolate without the resurrection of the dead, has tended to be purely and simply an apostolate for western cultural and economic ‘progress,’ and not a true preaching of the Gospel.” (Thomas Merton, The New Man, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1961, 5-6.)