Today’s readings all seem to point towards repentance, following Christ more closely and being true and faithful disciples of His. In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah, chapter 3, verses 1-5, and verse 10, we heard of how the Ninevites turned from their evil ways, after Jonah preached to them. Saint Paul in his first Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 29 to 31, our second reading, reminds us that time is running out; it is time to repent and change our lives and ways because the world in its present form is passing away.

Then in the gospel reading, from the holy gospel according to Mark, chapter 1, verse 14 to 20, Jesus calls us to repentance stating, “this is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” After these words, Jesus calls and chooses His first four disciples, Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother, John.

So these readings emphasize to us that in order to become better Christians and disciples of Christ, we have to change our lives, repent of our sins and truly follow Christ. It is based on this fact that the call of the first four disciples of Christ in the gospel reading today reaffirmed the importance of repentance in our lives as children of God, and teaches us how to answer our call to discipleship.

So how can we answer our call to discipleship better? The response or actions of Simon, Andrew, James and John when Jesus called them teaches us how to answer our own individual calls to discipleship. These are the characteristics exhibited by them in answer to Jesus’s call.

  1. Hearing Christ’s call - They heard Jesus’s call when He called them saying, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Have you truly heard Jesus’s call to follow and serve Him in the Church today? Have you responded to His call to come after Him and become a fisher of men?
  2. Promptness in response to our call to discipleship - These first four disciples were prompt in their response to Jesus’s call, as they immediately abandoned their nets, left everything and followed Him. How prompt are we in our response to Jesus’s call to follow Him? Are we still dragging our feet in laziness as we answer our call to discipleship? Or are we full of doubts and worries about our beliefs and faith that we have failed to sincerely and promptly answer our call to discipleship?
  3. Obedience to God - The actions of these first four disciples in abandoning their nets, their families and everything to follow Christ is an act of obedience to Him. Are you obedient to God? Are you obedient to the teachings, doctrines and traditions of the Catholic Church as taught us by Christ? Or are you still arguing, fighting, condemning, picking and choosing what you like or dislike about our Catholic faith rather than being obedient to God?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, like Jesus said, “this is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” So let us repent and believe in the gospel by hearing and answering Jesus’s call to follow Him, by promptly and positively responding to that call, and by being obedient to Him as His children.