I will make you a fisher of people

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[3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, January 25, 2014,
Jon 3:1-5, 10 / Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mark 1:14-20]

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JESUS is walking along the shore of Lake Galilee. He saw two brothers casting a net in the lake. The brothers were Simon and Andrew and they were fishermen. Jesus said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” At once, they left their nets and follow him.

What did Jesus see in those simple fishermen? The first Pope and another Saint! Simon would be the first Pope and Andrew would be St Andrew. St Andrew is the patron Saint of Scotland and as he was crucified in a diagonal position the Scottish flag has a diagonal white cross in it.

It is interesting that in a fisherman Jesus sees a fisher of men. In some ways it is the fulfillment of what a person is already doing. It is not a career change but more of a huge promotion. Before I became a priest I was a surgeon. I was working in the field of plastics and reconstruction. That is why I am so handsome. Just joking! I was working with children with facial deformities and trying to rebuild them.

Sometimes when people hear that I am now a missionary priest they will comment “Oh why did you change?” or “Why did you leave it all behind?” As the years have gone by I feel that answering the call of Jesus has meant that all the aspirations have been fulfilled. Jesus does not take away, he gives! The mission entrusted to the church is a mission to reconstruct, to give back the broken identity of many people, to make them beautiful once again.

Many people who answer the call experience this, that to follow Jesus is to fulfill all human aspirations. I have met engineers who instead of building structures dedicate themselves to building bridges between people, accountants who teach people to invest in heavenly things, and mathematics teachers who now teach that 5 +2 = 5000 (remember the multiplication).

Most of the time in following Jesus we imagine all that we have to leave behind! If we only focus on the renouncement then we are missing the point. We are still not following him yet, only thinking about it. As the slogan goes “Just do it!” in the little options of everyday life and you will discover the joy to follow Jesus. He is not a thief who comes to steal but the giver of life who wants us to have life to the full.

I remember my younger brother asking me about my decision to follow Jesus. He asked me about the vows of obedience, chastity and then hesitantly asked if I had to take a vow of poverty. I wondered why he was so interested until he asked “Well who is going to get your walkman?”

Sometimes we have to examine our lives and see what we are holding on to. Sometimes we are clutching on to things which have no real value. I remember in my novitiate visiting a very rich woman who was dying. She had asked for the anointing of the sick. During the unction she stretched out her hand. She said to the priest, “Father, I have invested all my life in money. Do you know what I have now?” She opened her palm and I was expecting to see a key to a hidden bank vault or perhaps a precious stone. But her palm was empty. “I go to my grave with nothing” she said sadly.

Following Jesus will not leave us empty handed! The disciples became fishers of people. They caught so many fish, and you and I are each one of them! Jesus has a huge horizon for each one of us. How can we participate in the great mission entrusted to the Church? Don’t worry, it is not too late. There are still lots of work to do! John Paul II said that after 2000 years the mission of the Church is only just beginning.

Sharing in the nets helps us leave many nets behind, many nets that just entangle us. How do we become fishers of people when we can’t even catch a few little sardines? Jesus gives us the secret “Come follow me, and I will make you a fisher of people.” It is about following Jesus.

He will do the miracles, the magical makeover of our lives. He is the good Doctor and knows what needs to be reconstructed! A spiritual nip and tuck here and there, not an eyebrow lift but lift up your eyes and see the mission fields ready for harvest.

But I am nobody, what can I do? Don’t say that! You are the next St. Andrew, you are a fisher of people! With me you will catch some big fish. Do you believe? Let the adventure begin. Time is running out, enough has been wasted. OK, Jesus, let’s go. I want to go fishing with you…

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