The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew,
Basilica of Saint Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy
© Christian Art / Alamy
Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.
Reflection on the 6th century Mosaics
In our Gospel reading by Mark we read about the start of Jesus’ ministry and the call of the first disciples. The scene is told also in other two synoptic gospels (Matthew and Luke) in almost the same way (although Luke includes it in the first miraculous drought of fishes). However in our Gospel reading by Mark, we read that the start of Jesus’ ministry and the calling of the first disciples go hand in hand. Jesus did not start his ministry and then came to the conclusion a few months later that he needed some people around him. No. Mark tells us that from day one Jesus needed disciples, friends.
Discipleship is not the same as being simply a student in the modern sense. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively ‘imitated’ both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master. As such we are called too to exactly this discipleship: imitating Jesus in all we do.
Our 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Saint Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna depicts the calling of saints Peter and Andrew. Peter and Andrew are seen drawing in their fishing nets that are with a rich catch of fish. Peter has short grey hair and Andrew white cropped hair. In other mosaic scenes in the basilica they are portrayed in exactly the same way. Jesus calls the two with a blessing gesture. Note the way Christ’s fingers are portrayed in the old Byzantine figuration: the tips of the first three fingers (the thumb, index, and middle ones) are brought together, and the last two (the ‘ring' and little fingers) are pressed against the palm.
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