“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”
When I think of fishing, I imagine sitting on the bank of a lake, casting my line and bobber into the water and lazily waiting for a fish to nibble. I think of a day of solitude under the sun. Actually catching a fish is not really that important. In fact, I would probably find it to be a distraction. This is the kind of fishing that most of us probably imagine when we hear the Messiah’s invitation to Peter and Andrew to become fishers, not of fish, but of men.
But this is not the approach to fishing that Jesus had in mind. Jesus was speaking to professional fishermen; men who rose early before first light to find the best fishing spot and who worked long hard hours into the day in order to get a sizable catch for market. This was their livelihood. They were not anglers out for sport. It is important to note this — they were not casting a line into the water. They were using nets. And it took the cooperation of several people to cast these nets into the water and then to pull them back into the boat without losing the catch. And after the fish were taken to market, the fishermen’s day was not over. Together they would labor on into the evening, mending their nets so as to be ready for the next day.
The gospel tells us that Jesus was proclaiming the good news of the kingdom throughout all of Galilee. He was bringing the light to the people living in darkness, in fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus knew if the mission was to be accomplished he could not do it alone; he must train others to launch out into the darkness with the good news. And so he calls Peter, Andrew, James, John, and you and me to work along side him.
He called them and he calls us to be fishers of men. To be fishers means that we must be intentional in our efforts of sharing the good news. Evangelization cannot be a lazy sport. It must be a labor, a labor of love to be sure, but a labor indeed. It is to be our occupation….our primary endeavor. We must rise early preparing ourselves through prayer that we would know where to find those people most receptive to our message. We must cooperate with others in casting the net of God’s love. We cannot be like the Corinthians, each casting their own single line into the waters….I belong to Luther….I belong to Wesley….or (the really spiritual ones)….I belong to Christ.” In order for us to get the Great Catch, we must all join together.
We are called to a new season of evangelization. Let us mend our nets in preparation — repairing the spiritual holes and omissions in our lives. Let us pray for wisdom and knowledge to find the best places to cast our message. Let us join with all our brothers and sisters in unity and peace to cast forth the net of God’s love and gather in the bountiful catch of all God’s chosen.
Third Sunday Is 8: 23- 9: 3; I Cor. 1: 10-13, 17; Mt. 4: 12-23
|Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice.© copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.|