Fishers of Men

Matthew 4: 18-22
Rom 10: 9-18/ Ps 19: 8- 11

“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
(Matthew 4:19)

Thank You, Jesus for calling me
To a greater task I knew not then;
In this sea of humanity,
You called us to be fishers of men.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them, and they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

Reflection

My wife and I like to go brisk walking along the shores of Times Beach, which is not far from our house. An enterprising businessman had reclaimed a large area of the beach from the sea, and constructed a concrete embankment where people can promenade or jog early in the morning. Others find it a convenient place for hook-and-line fishing. We noticed however that their catch was sparse, and the fish caught were small, just a few inches in size. Only the small fish wander close to the shore; the big ones are farther out in the depths of the ocean. These people, of course, are not true fishermen, just hobbyists out for some leisurely fishing, enjoying the salty breeze and the early morning sun. Fishing is not their true calling.

When Jesus called His first disciples, He picked four brawny men of the sea, hands calloused by years of hard work, whose livelihood depended totally on the protection and benevolence of Divine Providence. They knew what living on the edge was all about, and were often willing to risk their lives in the uncharted depths in order to catch a big harvest from the sea. If Yahweh God called sheep herders like Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David to shepherd His Chosen People, Jesus called four fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John – to catch the people of all nations on earth. Like their predecessors in the Old Testament, they were called for God’s mission, and they left their livelihood for a higher calling.

In the first reading, St. Paul proclaims the call to mission: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News!” (Rom.10:14-15)

Jesus’ call today may not necessarily mean leaving our present livelihood or career. But it also involves a significant transformation, a major paradigm shift, if you may. It means leaving the old ways that we have been accustomed to, and facing the uncharted course of ridicule and great sacrifice. It means taking on a much bigger responsibility of bringing souls to Jesus, without regard for cost or circumstance, for the glory of God’s kingdom, to which we all aspire, at the end of our life’s journey.

We praise and thank You, Father, for making us realize that we are called to become fishers of men if we are to be worthy to enter Your kingdom. Your call has given meaning and purpose to our lives. Empower us with Your Gospel to be able to respond positively to the challenge of bringing others to Christ. Amen.

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