They left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed Jesus” (Mark 1:20).
The focus in both readings today—from Hebrews and Mark—is on fatherhood. In the ancient world, human identity was thought to come from the father, with the mother only receiving and nurturing the seed from her male partner. This agricultural image influenced the doctrinal emphasis on Jesus as God because he was the "Son of God."
In Mark’s account of the call of the first disciples, the departure of James and John from their father Zebedee denoted a radical break from family and tribal identity to a new loyalty to Jesus. This theme is repeated later when Jesus' family shows up to claim him, and he publicly declares that the Word of God now defines his family of disciples. His own intimate union with his heavenly Father supersedes all blood ties. Today, because of our better understanding of biology, we can only adequately express our identity as coming from both male and female, mother and father, masculine and feminine.
The central question for every person is “Who am I?” As we mature we come to terms with the influence of family and the reality of our DNA. We explore the deep imprint of primary relationships on our personalities and behaviors, sometimes to understand and exceed the limits they imposed, often to appreciate the graces of those who laid the foundation we now build on.
The mystery of our identity in Christ also open us to a lifetime of reflection. We carry divine potential, a sense of mission, the mind of Christ and the legacy of his human life, death and resurrection in our choices. We leave behind all lesser loyalties to follow Jesus wherever he calls us. His face reveals the hidden mystery of God, ineffable source of all life. We pray to deepen our awareness of God so we can know ourselves, who we really are.