Christian mission is to spread God’s love and compassion, reconciliation and peace. It is about making tangible our faith to everyone around us that God is with us, in our midst of everyday life. Mission calls us to be expressions of God – this love, compassion and reconciliation through our actions. Mission is different from evangelisation. It is more than human eloquence. Love calls us to become more than who we already are, to continue to keep moving out of self.
Are we all called to this mission or is this call meant only for a select few? “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Are we named “fishers of men” just because we are baptised and follow Christ? Or must we work to become, to be made into, this fisher of men? ‘Follow’ here is not about the static following of a teaching but it very much involves moving with the Holy Spirit that our baptism conferred upon us.
Last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us of our baptism, not just of water but also of the Holy Spirit. We are not baptised as a fisher of men but are baptised to become a fisher of men. To become is still very much our choice. It is our choice to allow the Holy Spirit to engage us. Once engaged we do not remain still because the Spirit is always on the move. Being with Christ as his disciples is participating in this Spirit, always on mission, looking and searching for, tending and giving to, people who need to experience God in their midst.
Only in moving are we are being with Jesus. Remember the apostles huddled together in fear, hiding in the Upper Room. Pentecost came and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and suddenly mission began for them. Their immediate response was to move out of the safety of the upper room. Beneath that physical manifestation of moving out, there was the internal movement of moving out of their old selves to become new, overcoming fear and even speaking in their native tongues proclaiming their experience of Jesus.
We can all become like that too. The Spirit wants to move us as well. Humanly, when we have a good (and even bad) experience in life, it is impossible to keep it within. We want to tell the world. When we have genuine encounters and experiences of Jesus in our personal life through the blessings of his love, compassion, reconciliation and peace, we simply cannot keep those within too. In this way, being with Jesus, will always move us out to mission, to become fishers of men.
There are many opportunities in daily life to become a fisher of men. A fisher of men draws others towards God, to become constantly aware of God’s presence and to keep moving, always returning into a closer closeness to God. This involves engaging people, being involved and interacting in a good way to allow them to experience God in our midst. It involves moving out, not just physically, to where they are in their emotions, ideas and ways of life, to touch them with the Gospel message.
When we keep doing this we continuously evolve, ‘always returning’, changing our self to become always an even better expression of God’s love. We will grow in our discipleship that will bring us more and more into a sphere of fulfilment and purpose that will only get deeper and better as long as we keep moving.
Being with Jesus is constantly about moving out, being with his work, his mission. It is about becoming a fisher of men.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023
With thanks to Fr Hermes Sabud