Imagining the Gospel Scene: They Left Their Father and Followed Him

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“Imagining the Gospel Scene” is a series from the Jesuit Media Lab. On occasional Sundays throughout this liturgical year, creators in the JML community will respond to the day’s Gospel passage through the practice of Ignatian contemplation, or what is sometimes called “imaginative prayer.”

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola invites participants to place ourselves in Gospel scenes using the imagination, relying on our senses to develop a distinctive, personal perspective on a given story — and thereby getting to know Christ better. After praying with the Gospel using their imaginations, our contributors will create a piece of art flowing from their experience — a painting, poem, short story, song, photograph or work in another medium.

Sunday, January 21, 2024: Mark 1:14-20

“He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.”

“They Left Their Father, and Followed Him,” digital illustration, Marcus Bleech, 2024

Artist Statement
So much stress induced by so few words! As a parent, I’m challenged imagining what it would be like to abruptly have your children leave your household. Leave, and follow a powerful personal calling.

Imagine working alongside your children at the moment when they are called to a different vocation than the one your family has likely pursued for generations. Would you be angry? Worried? Relieved? What did Christ say to James and John? What did Zebedee see at that moment?

As I imagined that scene, I felt that Zebedee must have seen something that consoled him to wave goodbye to his sons. Every parent wants their children to be safe, happy, fulfilled. What would it take for me to let them go? What would I have to see?

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