The gospel accounts do not give us a lot of details about how Jesus chose his intimate band of disciples that we call apostles. There were no want ads placed, no job fair or online resume services. You might think that Jesus would have reached out to his cousin, John the Baptist or some other relatives. But just the opposite seems to be true. Jesus scouted around and looked for honest men who worked hard and were dependable. The gospels tell us that at least four of the twelve were fishermen.
In today’s gospel Jesus goes to preach at the Lake of Gennesaret, better known as the Sea of Galilee. He must have been excited to start telling people about the kingdom of God in their midst. Jesus gets into Simon’s boat (Peter) and pushes out from shore since the water will magnify the sound of his voice. The people must have been spell bound and wondered who was this person Jesus? Afterwards he tells Peter to go out into deep water and lower his nets for a catch. Can you imagine what the fishermen thought? Who is this man telling us to go fishing after catching nothing all night? What does he know about fishing? But this was no ordinary request by an unknown carpenter. Their humility and obedience brought a miraculous catch of fish. That pivotal event changed their lives forever.
Now the band of twelve entered three years of on the job training with Jesus. There was lots to learn and much to understand about who Jesus was and what he came to reveal to the world. All of them would be fishing all right but not with nets and fishing lines. After the resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles would proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God to all who would listen. All are welcome, Jew and Gentile. The task was often dangerous and the disciples of Jesus were often rejected and imprisoned. But they shouldered the cross in whatever way it came to them in imitation of Jesus.
You and I have the same mission as the Apostles. Jesus chose you and me to bring in the harvest of God’s people by fishing for souls. We are not perfect people any more than the Apostles were perfect. But we are willing to learn, willing to serve. Like Jesus we need to love the people we reach out to before we witness to them. With kindly words, good example and lots of prayer we will lead people to Jesus. Happy fishing today.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP