Today is the first Sunday we hear from Mark’s Gospel, which will be our focus this Lectionary year. Mark’s tone and pace are unique. Details are sparse. Dialogues are quick. Jesus is always on the move. Mark wants us to focus on the essentials. In this scene, Mark makes his claim: This Jesus, who came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God, is the good news. How will you respond?
Often we place much attention today on Jesus’s invitation, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” However, the pairing of this passage with the reading from Jonah gives us a more urgent focus.
The Ninevites’ radical and immediate change of heart at the prophet’s warning, the first disciples’ unhesitating turn to Jesus at his command—these are the markers of true discipleship. To be a disciple is first to recognize the authority of God’s word in Jesus and then to respond without delay.
Unlike the first disciples, however, we do not have the privilege of hearing Jesus’s words directly from him. How do we discern what is truly God’s good news? Perhaps what we learn today is this: Listen to the cry of the foreigner in your land. Do not try to follow the way of the Gospel alone, but be humble and walk together the paths of the Lord.