“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
This past Fall my sons were aching to learn how to fish. So, my husband put together the necessary supplies and dusted off the three kids fishing poles stored on a shelf in the garage. And then he took them fishing. They bumbled a little at first – nearly spearing each other with the hooks on the ends of their lines. Over time they settled down a little and got to the work of waiting to catch a fish.
They have fished a couple times since then, but they have not yet caught anything. Still they want to try and try again until they do. When he finally does, my oldest says he does not want to harm any of the fish he catches. He wavers a little back and forth between catching and keeping the fish and just unhooking them and throwing them back into the lake. I think he really just wants to get to know the fish. He wants to get up close and look into the fish’s eyes and become its friend. And then he wants to let the fish go back to its community.
Maybe my oldest in his seven year old wisdom already has an understanding of what Jesus wanted from Simon and Peter when he called them forth to be “fishers of men.” I envision Jesus wanted his men to go out and try again and again to meet people where they are and “catch” them with the Good News that they were unconditionally loved by God. I think Jesus wanted his apostles to cause no one they came into contact with any harm. I imagine Jesus wanted each of his apostles to get up close, look each person in the eye, and get to know them as unique human beings created in God’s image. And then, just maybe, Jesus wanted his men to gently guide the people they encountered back into the water so they could share the knowledge of God’s love with everyone else in their school.
May we all be fishers of men and women as we go into this week – looking others in the eye and encountering them in all their humanity. Then may we share with people the love of God in our actions and in our words so that they may internalize that love and spread it to others in their community.
One year for a senior retreat, someone (a student or faculty member, I can’t remember) chose this song to accompany their talk. It is a good one for this Gospel passage today.