FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (February 10, 2019)
I saw an interesting tee shirt, that read: “Some fish to forget troubles; some fish to eat dinner. Me? I like worms.” Jesus might have worn a tee that said: “Some people fish for fish. Me? I fish for people.”
Today, Jesus calls Peter, James and John to help him fish. Isn’t their reaction amazing? These three, Jewish, commercial fishermen had the haul of fish of their lives --their biggest profit lay ahead. Jesus calls them to become people-fishers. They neither protest nor ask to first sell the fish. They immediately leave their nets.
These three would become the inner circle of the Twelve. The trio that would be with him when he would raise Jairus’ daughter to life, when he would be transfigured on Mt. Tabor, when he would be on the mount of olives the night before he was killed. Evidently, the men did show some fear because Jesus counsels them not to be afraid. They courageously accept Jesus’ offer. What charisma Jesus must have had! Let the Jesus-adventure begin!
The time had come in Jesus’ life to put out into the deep waters of Israel and the world and begin, like a fisherman, to lure people into the kingdom of his father.
Today, there are two movements that comprise evangelization - a big word for a simple idea, the process of bringing people to Jesus. One movement addresses the recognized fact that many who call themselves catholic Christians are not really “hooked” by Jesus. They are nominal or sometime, Catholic Christians. Church leaders claim the first task of evangelization is converting the already baptized Catholics who have been lured away by other values or addictions.
Also, there are some baptized, church-going Catholics who are concerned with the “things” of religion: this devotion or that prayer. Prayer-sayers are not what Jesus wants. Jesus wants pray-ers, communicators with him in relationship. Any practice in religion must be a means toward the end of relationship with Jesus. No particular devotion hooked Peter, James or john in today’s gospel. They were lured and hooked on the person of Jesus.
There are physical addictions that lure us from time for our Lord. Our people get hooked on drugs, food, alcohol, smoking.
There are also cultural addictions that take the time needed for relationship with our lord: sports [playing or watching], hobbies, shopping, TV-watching, texting, the internet and more. These can be addictive as well.
The second movement of evangelization consists in introducing those not of our faith expression – or of no faith expression – to our faith in Jesus.
God is love; Jesus is love enfleshed and calls us - as he called Peter, James and john - into a personal relationship with himself and his father and the spirit. When he lures us with his love, we are moved to return his love with our love; we are hooked – as the great fisherman wants us to be.
Anyone associated with the oblates has heard the motto of St. Francis de sales: Tenui nec Dimittam . . . I have held on and I will not let go. A loose translation in the light of this gospel loose translation could be: “I have been hooked on Jesus who loves me and I will not get unhooked. “
Like the wonderful relationship of love between humans, our relationship with our god grows and deepens. It is so real - it becomes visible to others. Remember in the Acts of the Apostles: “See the Christians, see how they love one another.” It still happens today. Our neighbors see something in us that they want. They seek. They inquire; they join the RCIA. That is how the second movement of evangelization happens. It is how the call of Jesus to Peter, James and John continues.
Let’s look in our spiritual mirrors. Do people see something of Jesus in you that Peter, James and John saw in the person of Jesus? To the extent that they do, we know that we are growing spiritually; we know that the RCIA will flourish. The work of Jesus will go on and spread. Jesus called it the “Kingdom of God.”