The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 22, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Sunday Reading Meditations
The first Apostles Jesus chose were fishermen: Peter, Andrew, John and James. I wonder why Jesus called these four men to be his first disciples.
Fishermen have to prepare the nets and navigate their boats to the fishing place. Then, they cast their nets and wait. What happens does not depend on them. The catch is totally unpredictable. Fishermen know that the most important part of their work is not in their hands. The outcome is determined by the mysterious sea: some days their nets fill with fish and other days they receive nothing from the sea.
Fishers are well aware of the unpredictability of their task. They work hard but the results are beyond their control. Every time they go out to sea and face the horizon, they face the infinite. Fishers are usually very religious people.
The lives of the fishers of Capernaum changed radically when they met a man who was walking by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He looked at them and said: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). In these mysterious words, they found an invitation and challenge. They were invited to exchange their fish for men. Henceforth, they would only use their nets to catch the only creatures created in the image and likeness of the Creator.
The nets symbolize the unity of the Church, the unity of the Apostles among themselves and with Jesus. Yesterday, we completed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We were reminded of the importance of the unity of believers. In the second reading, Saint Paul talks about the importance of unity in the Church. In the community of Corinth, there were deep divisions. Nets were torn by rivalries. Saint Paul exhorted the Corinthians with these words: “[…] that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” Some people in the community were saying: “‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ,’” but Paul asked: “Is Christ divided?” Divisions, torn nets, compromise the Church’s mission. The unity of believers allows people to encounter Jesus Christ.
When Jesus called the Apostles, Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea and James and John were mending nets.
To cast a net signifies the mission of the Church. We need to be missionaries, to have the audacity to proclaim Jesus Christ. However, this is not enough. We must also mend the nets, build unity. First of all, we need to build our unity with Christ. We all belong to him. His call brings us together as one body. Deep union with Jesus requires unity of the disciples among themselves.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus has called all of us to follow him and become fishers of men. He calls us again and again to be with him and proclaim the good news. He invites us to mend and cast our nets. Let us receive his invitation with gladness and determination!
We all belong to him. His call brings us together as one body. Deep union with Jesus requires unity of the disciples among themselves.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus has called all of us to follow him and become fishers of men. He calls us again and again to be with him and proclaim the good news. He invites us to mend and cast our nets. Let us receive his invitation with gladness and determination! Amen.
Sunday Reading Meditations