NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD
In Sunday’s Gospel reading from St. Mark Jesus begins to call his Apostles to a life of ministry with him. He walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a large lake both fed and drained by the Jordan River, where a large fishing industry was carried on in the time of Jesus. Jesus would have come upon many fishermen during his walk, and he singles out Simon (later called Peter) and his brother Andrew. He invites them to leave their nets and follow him. He does the same with James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, who are working with their father. The Scripture says that they too left their father and the hired men and followed Jesus.
In order to understand the seriousness of these men to follow Jesus it is necessary to consider the importance of the fishing industry in His time. Fish were a major source of protein and, along with bread, were staple foods of much of the population of the area. Much of the fish was also dried in salt and exported to places as far away as Rome, where dried fish from Galilee was considered a delicacy. Archeological digs at Bethsaida, a town on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, have unearthed numerous fishing items, as well as evidence that it was actually a place where fishing equipment was manufactured. At Bethsaida, the government of King Herod sold fishing rights to wealthy merchants, who in turn sold these rights to other fishermen, charging them a heavy tax for the right to carry on their trade. It seems that some of these created family fishing businesses that required the hiring of workers. This seems to be the case of Zebedee, the father of James and John in today’s Gospel reading. It says that James and John left their father and the hired men and followed Jesus.