In the passage selected for today, Jesus makes his appearance as a great light that has arisen in Galilee of the Gentiles. He is light for a people who have lived in darkness and the shadow of death and oppression. In the context of Roman imperial rule, Jesus offers hope of an alternative reign. We might focus on the gift of light. Without an appreciation of light itself we cannot really understand this image.
Jesus invites his hearers to expand their horizons, to “repent” for the empire or kingdom “of the heavens” has come near. He then calls four fishermen to follow him, to join him on his mission of proclaiming the empire or reign “of the heavens”. The verb “to follow” is an invitation to live out in their lives/our lives the pattern of Jesus’ life. They “immediately” leave their boat and their father and follow him. Later in the story we find they still have their boat, an indication that, at some levels, the story is to be read symbolically. At times we need to distance ourselves from family expectations for the sake of the gospel. At times we have to decenter our material possessions even while we affirm the goodness of their materiality and their significance for the work of the mission.
One might get the impression that the alternative community that Jesus forms around him is all male. This impression is dispelled a few verses later when we learn that “great crowds followed him” (4:25). In Matthew 18, there is specific mention of children and, towards the end of the gospel, we find that women have “followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him’” (27:55). There is a far more extended group around Jesus than today’s reading might suggest. Women, men, and children, we are all invited to turn our lives around and to live out in our lives the pattern of Jesus’ life.

Excerpt from Sister Veronica Lawson, rsm gospel reflection at