The scripture for today is a story about Jesus calling some
disciples from fishing in the sea to fishing for people.
There are lots of ways to go fishing. As a child, I went to
a nearby lake with my family carrying a bamboo pole and some worms. The worms
drowned more often than I caught anything on my hook. Today, I get my fish in
Other people make an art of casting a fly into a brook,
attempting to lure a trout out of its rocky hiding place. Some people take
serious equipment out into the oceans and bays in search of larger fish.
And some folks use nets and traps for commercial fishing
enterprises. The disciples in our Gospel story were commercial
fishers. They got into boats and cast nets in hopes of catching enough fish to
sell to the folks in the community.
I love to think that Jesus called out to four strangers and
they immediately dropped everything and followed him, leaving their fishing
business and their families behind. But, I know enough about human nature to
think that maybe it happened differently.
Jesus lived in Capernaum; he had a home there,
scripture says. So, I believe that Jesus the carpenter took his time getting to
know the people in town through his business activities. As he did, he talked
about his way of believing in God. He talked about repentance giving them the
opportunity to start over with God. And he talked about the reign of God coming
near and how people should all rejoice in this good news.
Jesus was already teaching the disciples to fish for
people, as they observed him lure them in with an interesting headline. The
more he talked, the more he caught the attention of the people. And some of
them began to listen more closely and agreed with him. He began to have
conversations with them about telling more and more people about the reign of
God. He enticed them with the notion of fishing for people. Some of them
realized they had allowed themselves to be caught.
Scripture tells the stories of the calling of the twelve
disciples, all men. But there must have been women who were caught at the same
time. The Twelve had families, wives, sisters and brothers, parents, children. It
makes sense that the men went home and talked to their families, and brought
them to meet Jesus. And along the way, more women were lured in, caught by the
same good news of the coming of the reign of God. Mark reports that Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were at the cross and the tomb.
And Luke includes Joanna and Susanna, as among women who financially supported
As the group grew they began to make plans to travel
around the region, a day or two here, a day or two there, coming home often
enough to go fishing for fish. They discuss the fishing method. Do they want to
plan a big event, spreading out a large net, or should they just enter a town
and talk with people like themselves, more like casting a fly for one or two at
a time? I have the idea that the fisher folk went to speak with other fisher
folk; the women went to the well and the communal oven; farmers talked with the
miller; dairy people talked with other cattle owners; mothers spoke with the
mothers of small children; and so forth.
As the story unfolds, they used many different fishing
methods, and the bait is always the same, “Come and hear the good news of the
reign of God coming near.”
It’s the same for us, isn’t it? We can cast a wide net as
the congregation, hoping to catch a lot of new believers for Jesus.
But the way it works best is to talk with people one
on one, sharing our own experiences of Jesus and how he caught us. We lure them
in with the promise of God’s love for us, and of Divine mercy and forgiveness.
We allow them time to consider all we’ve said, and wait for them to take the bait.
Once they are hooked, they discover for themselves the wonder and joy of
entering the reign of God. And then, they join us in the adventure of fishing
So, I encourage you to think about people who you know,
people who might respond to the lure of your own story of Jesus’ love and
forgiveness. And start fishing for people. As you do so, your own faith will grow
along with your friend’s faith. Amen