Fishers of Men

Scripture Reading

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father 
and followed him.
(Matthew 4:18-22)

 

Scripture Study

4:18 Jesus next summons four men to be his disciples. He finds them at the Sea of Galilee, a lake about thirteen miles long, north to south, and seven miles across at its widest. In the spring, after the winter rains, this is a place of stunning natural beauty—green hills, flowery meadows, gentle breezes, shimmering waters.

When the voice of Jesus reaches these men, they are fishing. We are not to picture in our minds a recreational activity—a leisurely afternoon of bait-and-tackle fishing. These are professional fishermen. They have in hand circular fishing nets, weighted around the perimeter, that were thrown from a standing position in shallow water. Nets like these were designed to catch large shoals of fish at a time to be sold at the local fish markets in Capernaum or dried for export to other places.

4:19–20 Simon and his brother Andrew are the first to be called. “Come after me,” Jesus urges them. This is a remarkable scene on many counts. Jewish rabbis were normally chosen as mentors by interested students, not the other way around. Thus by taking the initiative to gather disciples to himself, the Messiah adopts a new and unconventional tactic. Even more striking is the brothers’ response: without deliberation or hesitation they drop their nets and set out after the Galilean preacher who promises to make them fishers of men. Other rabbis accepted students who studied their teachings; Jesus forms disciples who, like himself, “catch” people and draw them to salvation.

4:21–22 Further down the shoreline, a second call goes out to James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They too respond with amazing promptness. Only here the summons to follow Jesus is met with greater sacrifice, for these brothers not only leave behind their fishing gear, but they also bid farewell to their father. Theirs is a break with family as well as livelihood, and both decisions are made immediately.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel reports the Lord’s calling his first disciples. What is it about this scene that is so peaceful and right? Somehow it gets at the very heart of Jesus’ life and work, revealing what he is about. He comes into the world as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, a representative from the community which is God—and thus his basic purpose is to draw the world into community around him.”

“He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” There is so much packed into that simple line. Well, we notice the way that God acts. He is direct, in your face; he does the choosing. Jesus is not offering a doctrine, a theology, a set of beliefs. He is offering himself. Become my disciple. Apprentice to me.

“And I will make you fishers of men.” One of the best one-liners in the Scripture. God is the creator, the one who makes us from nothing. And what he makes us is always a reflection of himself: a fisher of men.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 81–82.