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Jesus promises us ‘bigger fish’

Based on Is 8:23-9:3; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23

This Sunday’s readings give us two challenges.

Isaiah speaks symbolically of light and darkness to point out the Lord will restore the warring territories and save all people, despite their prejudices. He calls for people to have faith in God who saves.

Paul writes to the Corinthian community torn apart with jealousy and petty disagreements. He reminds them they have been baptized into Jesus Christ who died for all people and who calls them to live in unity.

After his baptism by John the Baptist, followed by 40 days of prayer in the desert, and John’s imprisonment, Jesus leaves Nazareth to begin his public ministry of teaching, preaching and healing – not in large cities like Jerusalem, Alexandria or Athens but in the little fishing village of Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee. Jesus proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Throngs of people gather to listen and to follow him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus walks along the Sea of Galilee and sees two fishermen, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the sea. He calls out, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” They leave their nets and follow Jesus.

Farther along the shore Jesus sees James and John in a boat mending nets with their father Zebedee. He calls out to them, too. They leave their father in the boat with the hired men and follow Jesus.

Two sets of brothers and the first four apostles. There are no interviews, no job descriptions, no salaries – just Jesus’ promise they will catch “bigger fish.” They drop everything and leave their families and their thriving business – boats, nets, crews – to follow Jesus.

Growing in their knowledge and love for Jesus, the apostles will carry on his work, spread his teachings and talk about God’s great love for all people, heal the sick and forgive sins. People will learn to know, to love and to follow Jesus. 

For us, too, nothing is more important than following Jesus. Pope Francis, in a recent general audience, challenges us, “We are one community, and living together our faith is not an ornament, but rather is something essential for the Christian life … for testimony and for evangelization. We are called to be witnesses of the Gospel before the world.”