Gospel Meditation

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.” What did Zebedee think about all of this? His sons and his partners, James and John, suddenly left their post and followed Jesus. So there he stood in the boat with a crew of employees, but not one of his sons. We can’t help but wonder whether Zebedee was in favor of this promise that his heirs would become “fishers of men.” Most likely, this event was the cause of some familial tension.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus instructs us to love and serve others for the love of God. But the Lord also makes it clear that our devotion to him is meant to trump our devotion to anything—or anyone—else. For our part, we are called to allow this divine allegiance to exist in those we love, even when it means a sacrifice for us as well. Parents for example, like Zebedee, are called to encourage their children to follow the Lord’s call. A son or daughter’s vocation to religious life certainly exemplifies this kind of sacrifice for a parent who might have had a different plan in mind. But in truth every son and daughter has a vocation from God and parents have the opportunity to support and assist their children as they seek to hear and follow God’s special plan for their lives.

We don’t know for sure how Zebedee responded to the vocation of his sons, but we know that James and John were counted among the Twelve Apostles and that their devotion and dedication helped to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Regardless of what he might have thought as he stood in that boat, we can be quite sure that looking back now, Zebedee can rejoice heartily in the choice of his sons to leave their nets and follow Christ.

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