Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the story of the calling of Simon Peter and his companions, the sons of Zebedee, fishermen of Galilee, to become the fishers of mankind. They have been called from their boats, from the Sea of Galilee, to be a part of the grand plan of salvation.
As fishermen at sea, Simon and the other fishermen merely did their daily routine of catching fishes, but then as the fishers of mankind, they broke out of their previous life, and went through trials and tribulations, going to different parts of the world, fishing ‘mankind’ and bring them to God. The world is now their fishing ground, and not just the Lake of Galilee anymore, where they used to work as fishermen.
They had been given greater and nobler purpose in their lives, that is to bring souls they had caught to God. How did they catch them then? No, not by fishing net as they had done to the fishes of Lake Galilee. They did that by being witnesses of Christ, of His death and His glorious resurrection. They preached the Good News to people who had not yet witnessed or heard about Christ before.
In that way they had spread the nets, yes, the nets of the kingdom of God, that all those who are not yet worthy of the kingdom of God, can be brought together in love, and put on the right track towards salvation in God. The Apostles went through much hardships and difficulties as they tried to bring the Lord to mankind, suffering rejection, persecution, and mockery in the process.
Yet the Apostles are not superhuman, brethren, as they are also humans like us. They suffered from doubt, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty especially when Jesus was still among them, and they were indeed scattered when jesus was taken from them by betrayal of Judas, scattered like sheep without a shepherd to guide them.
What is important is that the Apostles did not abandon their calling, the same calling God had called them for when He called Simon Peter and the sons of Zebedee from the Lake, and also for the other disciples. They kept their faith and believed in the Lord when He returned to them after the resurrection. They were empowered with the Holy Spirit, the Advocate on the day of the Pentecost.
They faced oppositions from the Pharisees and the chief priests, as well as the Roman authorities, when they went on to spread the Good News of the Lord. It is indeed as if the Apostles, the fishers of mankind, faced terrible waves and storms in their journey to ‘catch’ mankind to salvation in God. They persevered despite the heavy stormy conditions and saved many in the process.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this then relevant to us who live in this world today, two thousand years after Jesus called His disciples? It is precisely because the work of the Apostles as the fishers of men dis not just stop with them or with their death. The Apostles had appointed their successors to lead the Church of God, and they are truly our priests and bishops of today.
Yes, brethren, they are the successors of the original fishers of men, and their duty is no less heavy as compared to that of the Apostle’s. They also have to work hard to ‘catch’ mankind and bring them into the kingdom of God, just as the Apostles had once done. However, brethren, in fact, we should, in our own small ways, be fishers of men too. Yes, fishers of men, that is to bring the people to God.
How do we do that? It is by showing God to mankind, the living God through our words, deeds, and actions, that the Lord and His everlasting love will be made manifest in this world, through us. The same is also done by our priests and bishops, as the Apostles too had done themselves once. In doing that, we cast out wide the nets of the kingdom, and fish out many men.
Do not be disheartened brothers and sisters, if we think that we cannot do much. Indeed, even one man can make much a difference in our world, and save many. If we start with small things, even eventually this can have large impact, just as we can see in wave ripples, where even small wave can have huge impact on the water, as the waves built upon each other in strength.
The Lord had asked Simon Peter to go and put his net into the deep, and there he found many fish, so many that the ship almost sank. This is also known in Latin as Duc in Altum, ‘to put into the deep’. Again, through this, the Lord challenges all of us, to not just remain in our comfort zone, that is ‘near the shore’, and instead set out to the deep. As fishermen all know, the further out they go into the sea, the more fish they will be able to catch. Thus, we too ought to follow the lead and cast our ‘net’ into the deep, that means giving out of ourselves in ever greater ways, in full and complete dedication and love for our fellow brethren.
Therefore, let us also take the opportunity given to all of us, to be like the Apostles of Christ, to reach out to our fellow brethren who have yet to know Christ, that we can play each of our own parts in the Church of God, with our Pope, the successor of St. Peter the Apostle, chief of the apostles, and the bishops as leaders, together working as the fishers of mankind, for the sake of the salvation of all in Christ. God bless us all. Amen.