This week Matthew’s Gospel introduces us to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus has left his hometown of Nazareth and come to Capernaum—a bigger and busier town serving as a crossroads of trade. As he walks long the lake, he invites two brothers—Peter and Andrew to “come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” A short distance later Jesus extends the same invitation to two more brothers who are fishing for a living with their father as well. James and John also leave their father and boat to follow Jesus. I am often intrigued by Jesus’ choice of everyday events to bring forth the Reign of God. Today he uses fishing—and becoming ‘fishers of [people]’. When I think of the fishing with which I am familiar I think of a hook that one fish bites onto and, if the fisherperson is lucky, cannot escape from. Or of spear fishing in the winter, again, catching one fish at a time. But the kind of fishing these four men and their fathers were doing was not snagging the unfortunate fish one at a time. Rather, they fished with nets—gathering whole groups of fish together as one. What a great image for Jesus’ ministry—to gather all as one—not picking and choosing the biggest or the best or only one type of fish. There is room for all!
These first disciples had a choice to come or stay where they were. They must have seen or felt something special about Jesus to leave their families and jobs and stay with Jesus for three years and beyond. They believed him and
in his mission. They invested their very lives in this relationship with Jesus and in the ministry they grew to share with him. They had their disagreements, but by remaining focused on the mission Jesus called them to, they managed to resolve issues.
Not long ago we read about Jesus’ baptism and God’s echoing voice saying ‘this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.’ We too are gathered into the ‘net’ of the life of Christ and of the Catholic Church and by virtue of our own baptism. We have been called and receive grace to continue the ministry of making God present today. Think of a time you said yes to this call from God. What was happening? How did you respond? What happened in your life or in the lives of others? We know it is easy to be distracted by differences. That is not new to the human family as Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us today as well. As we move forward as a nation with our new president and leaders, may God remind us to look bigger than one idea or person and remember to look for what is best for all who are gathering in our communal “net.”
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC