Our life in its daily routine is much like a fisherman’s net, cast at the start of our day as we set about to earn a living. At day’s end, we haul up our net and harvest the good catch that will provide for family and self. But life is anything but routine. Often when we haul that net up, we find many items that distract us, and worse, things entangled in our net. Life is such: we have no control of what the tides bring in.
It is good practice to sit and reflect at the end of each day, to sort out and discard the debris we had accumulated but often our tired and distracted bodies have no energy left to do so until the tear in our net become too big, and perhaps too late. We have all been in such a situation when troubled by challenging issues, we sit to try to mend our nets, to patch things and make right our life. But often the debris overwhelm us and the tears too many to mend.
For many of us, it is only in a desperate situation, when entangled in our net, that our spirit begin to open to the possibility of divine intervention. We hope for it. In our desperation we cling on to the safety net of our faith that hope springs eternal. When we plunged deep into self, we hear a voice raising the possibility that we must change our life, to cast away the old net for a new one.
In the bartering for divine intervention, we hear this call to “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Who me?
We are called precisely because we are the lowly. We are not bible scholars, nor are we skilled at preaching. We are the ‘normal’ trying hard to live a normal life and in so doing we discover the relevance of faith to real life. We are chosen because we are graduates from the school of hard knocks. In the context of today readings, we swim in a school of fish and thus understand the way the tide flows.
We are called to complement the work of the clergy and to make real their preaching. We are personifications of the Word alive. We are asked to pass on the lessons learned from our nets, to marry our experiences with the knowledge they teach. Only ‘we’ have these unique lessons from the mending of our nets. This is how we attract the other fish: we live an authentic faith life.
There is no other qualification needed to become a “fisher of men”. But to become one needs a radical change from within. We must “at once leave our nets, leave our boat to follow him”. This change is not external. It is not a switch of an office career for life on the high seas, not a call to exchange our car for a sampan. We can remain where we are but internally and radically we exchange vainglory for the glory of God, our ‘self’ for ‘others’.
We are fish and yet we are called to be fisherman. We are fisherman yet we are fish. We have co-identities in the process of becoming holy, and holier. When we as fish are hauled up in someone else’s net, when we find ourselves in the lives of others, let us be a good catch in their net, by being to them the “Good News”. Let our life be authentic in Christ, to be ‘a light shining for those who live in deep shadow and we make their gladness greater and joy increase and not feel the burden of their daily routine’.
It is in this way that humbly as fish, we the ‘normal’ are privileged to be called and graced to become “Fishers of Men”.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time