“Henceforth you will be catching men."
Mark 5:10

Fishing was the most common occupation for people living in the villages of Capernaum and Bethsaida which were located near Lake Gennesaret.  The message of today’s Gospel is that we are called to become God’s fishermen, people who catch people for Jesus Christ.  The Gospel can be put in these three words “fish for people.”

The question to be addressed is this:  “What does it mean to fish for people?”  It means to bring people into God’s kingdom with a message of love and mercy. As we fish for people we aim to give them a new life, St. John calls it abundant life. Fishing for people requires us to cross all boundaries so as to bring all people into a loving relationship with Christ. It is a challenge to embrace and love all God’s people. Our fishing will not catch fish if we are not willing to embrace all people.

In today’s Gospel the ministry of the church is seen within the context of fishing for people. Christianity is about people and not about being right theologically and doctrinally. When we stand before Christ he will not ask if we kept the Sabbath; paid tithes, dressed properly, did you refrain from consuming alcohol and the like. He will ask us, did you feed the hungry, did you give water to the thirsty; did you visit those in prison. Disciples must have a love for people and work to make them citizens of the kingdom. “To fish for people’ is to be with them in their times of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, to be present when we are most needed. We can say it is to make Christ known and felt in their lives.

To become a fisher of men for Christ is a risky enterprise. Why? Because it will take us into unchartered waters as we proclaim the Good news of God’s Kingdom. It means sharing God’s love with difficult people, it means sharing God’s love with people we find difficult to embrace, and it is a challenge to cross social, political and economic boundaries in order to reach out to God’s people.  A times our offer of love will be rejected, at times it might bring us pain, sometimes it might seem a mission impossible and we might be tempted to give up. As we embark on this mission of catching people for Christ we must always be mindful of the uncertainty of the task we are undertaking; but we go forward with Christ’s words to Peter: “Be not afraid.”

When the fisherman throws his net into the sea all kinds of fish are caught in the net and he brings all to shore. So it is with us, when we go fishing for Christ we will encounter all kinds of people- the good and the bad. But we must not make distinctions in our service to the people we meet, all are worthy of the Good News. Our mission is to all people, all people are worthy of God’s love and all people are loved by God. We exercise an inclusive ministry which aims at the redemption of all mankind.

The invitation to become Christ fishermen is extended to all people. We will be accepted as we are and Christ will make us into what he wants to be. He did not say to Peter people go and change your clothes and come and follow me. His words were:  “henceforth you will be catching men." The call is immediate and it demands an immediate response. Come as you are and fish for Christ. None of us is worthy but we accept the call in faith and commit to the ministry of reconciliation. In the process we open our lives to Christ so that they can be changed.

If we are to be faithful fishermen for Christ we have to really become Christ-like in our actions and words. If we accept that fishing for Christ means sharing God’s love with all people we must always seek reconciliation with all people. What are its implications? We must be people who are forgiving and loving; we cannot be Christ’s fishermen if we do not forgive. We cannot bear malice and evil thoughts in our hearts; we cannot keep a record of the bad things people might have done to us or said about us; we cannot keep people in minds, we cannot allow past pains to keep us from sharing our friendship.Not only are these unacceptable from a Christian perspective, but they affect our personality and have the potential to make us sick spiritually and physically. What you are keeping in your mind, does it allow you to be at peace with your neighbour? If we really want to be Christ’s fishermen we have to let go of the past, if we don’t it will have a negative impact on our lives as we seek to embrace all the people of God.  As we fish God gives us the power of love. Because of his love we can overcome all trials, disappointments, pain and sorrow. If we do not love we cannot be Christ’s fishermen. Many of us who come to Mass every Sunday are not Christ’s fishermen because we do not practise true love.

Today as in the time of Jesus fishermen continue to throw their nets into the water. The question we must ask as a parish is this: “Where do we want to throw our nets?” It is also a question which every individual must ask; “Where does God want me to throw my net?”

There are many people living in the seas of sin and evil, anger, despair, hopelessness, loveless lives, low self esteem, anxiety, worry, abuse, poverty, loneliness, sickness and disease, unemployment, violence, hunger, drug addiction, inadequate housing, war, crime and the like. Where are we going to throw our nets?

But when you go fishing with Jesus, you never know what you’ll catch.

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