The nets were abandoned, the boats were abandoned, and even the father and the hired men were abandoned. So we read in today’s gospel account from Mark of the call of some of the disciples. What did the people think about this? Why did these young men just leave like that, walk off the job? It must have seemed quite irresponsible of them.
These boats and these nets were their livelihood, the tools of their trade, their economic stability. Yet we read they abandoned them. But what did they really abandon? While there is no doubt that they did fish again and that they used their boats again, there is also no doubt that the focus of their lives had been changed. They had chosen to set their feet on the path of Jesus to follow where his way would lead them.
More important and perhaps more difficult than changing their occupations was the challenge to change their perspective in all they would do. The call they heard was for abandoning a lot more than their boats and their nets.
This is the call to discipleship. It is not a call for any one select group of people, but for all who seek to follow after Jesus. Very few have the luxury of walking off the job to follow a new way of life. What we are all called to do is the follow a new way of life right on the job or the task of our lives.
We are indeed called to abandon the boats of our lives that through weakness can only ply the shoreline, and board instead the sturdier craft that can launch out into the deep and troubling waters of life, where too many of our sisters and brothers drown in the diseases and poverty brought about by our insatiable greed. We are called to churn up the waters with our speed boats and jet skis and so disturb the underlying currents that control the systems that leave so many lives in turmoil and distress.
We are called by Jesus to abandon the nets of life that entrap us in the certainty of our perspectives, blinding us to other ways that God is manifested in our world. We are asked to abandon those nets of fear, of anxiety, of concern for the future. Those are the nets that immobilize and cramp us so that we cannot seize the potential of the present and grasp it with an energetic agility.
To be a vibrant part of the mission of Jesus, bringing the liberating word of God as a means of healing the brokenness of life, requires the abandonment of the boats and nets which keep us bound and broken. When we can do this, when we can expose our wounds to the balm of grace, then we surely have a word or deed of healing to offer.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP