Reading: Matthew 4.18-22
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus said: Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.
In these ten words there is so much for us to reflect upon. Firstly, there is the fact that Jesus saw something special in two brothers who were just ordinary men working in the family business. Secondly, there is the immediacy of their response to Jesus’ call to follow him. Then comes the enigmatic challenge to become men who fish for people. So few words, and yet so much to reflect upon and to pray about.
Firstly, comes the recognition of something special in two fishermen. For those who lived by the Sea of Galilee, fishing would have been a major source of work. A large community grew up around the opportunities provided by that great inland stretch of water. There would have been many fishermen, and yet it was Peter and Andrew who were picked out by Jesus to receive the invitation to follow him. What happened by the Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago is still happening today. Jesus is always present with us and Jesus is always calling us into his service. Some will ignore his call, while others will put off responding to it. Some will be incredulous that Jesus might be calling them, while others will be certain that they are deluded or mistaken. Some, the few, will hear the call of Jesus and will follow Peter and Andrew by immediately responding in a spirit of faithful obedience. The challenge to us is to consider how we are responding to Jesus’ call. Are we joyful that he wants us to be among his closest followers, or are we apprehensive and fearful? Are we ready to risk our worldly ‘security’ and follow him, or are we too wedded to the lifestyles we have carved out for ourselves? Are we too proud and self-centred to allow someone else, even Jesus, to tell us what we should be doing, or do we have the humility to understand that Jesus leads us on the path we should be following? However we might receive the call of Jesus in our lives, let us all reflect on how we might respond?
Peter and Andrew responded immediately. The gospel gives no indication of any hesitation. We are told that: immediately they left their nets and followed him. That is a powerful and courageous response to the call of Jesus. Just imagine being brave enough to leave everything and follow the Lord, no matter where he may be leading us. That is exactly what those two brothers did. Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Just imagine what sort of world we would be living in if more people could do the same as Peter and Andrew. Just imagine all that Christian love and compassion unleashed in this divided and cruel world.
And why did Peter and Andrew walk away from the life they knew so well? They left to fish for people. The two brothers probably had no experience of preaching God’s word to those amongst whom they lived but, in response to Jesus’ call, they left everything and began a missionary journey that would last the rest of their earthly lives. They were told by Jesus that he wanted them to preach the Good News of his coming into this world. They would have known that this was a great challenge, and yet, immediately they left their nets and followed him
The challenge in today’s reading is obvious and simple, and yet it is also unbelievably difficult to put into action. Are we ready to abandon our old ways in order that we might take on the challenge of Jesus Christ? Are we ready to respond immediately in order that their might be no delay in putting Christ’s plan into action? Are we ready to share our faith with anybody and everybody we meet?
Just ten words, and yet a life-changing challenge!