Archive for January, 2012

Homily — 3rd Sunday OT B 1/22/12

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Homily — 3rd Sunday OT B 1/22/12

My grandfather on my mother’s side, who died 30 years ago, was a florist by trade, but a fisherman at heart.

Any opportunity he could, he went fishing. His florist shop was right along the River, and he would literally hang a fishing line out the window of the shop during business hours.

He bought 5 acres of woodland out in the country, just to fish on in the stream that ran through it.

And after he died, we found under the floor boards of the attic his fishing diary, which had the location of all his secret fishing spots, and what he caught there.

I must confess though, that while I inherited my grandfather’s love for the great outdoors, I didn’t at all inherit his passion for fishing. I guess if I had the time to do it, and someone to fish with I would, but since I don’t usually have both I end up instead going for a nice hike in the woods alone or with a friend, or kayak on a lake while on vacation, which lets me get some good and needed exercise in at the same time.

But on the other hand, in some ways I probably did inherit some of my grandfather’s fisherman qualities.

And that is because I, like Peter and Andrew in today’s Gospel, am called by Jesus to come follow after him and be a fisher of men. I am called to go out in the world and catch souls for Jesus by my words and actions.

As an ordained Priest of course, this is kind of my full time job, fishing for men; but really, all Catholics are called by Jesus to be fishers of men out in the world they live in, each day using all the natural and supernatural talents we have to bring everyone we come in contact with to Jesus.

But in some ways, every disciple is also called to be not only a fisher of man, but also a fisher of the Son of Man, a fisher of Jesus. In other words, you and I are called to search for Jesus in our lives, and through a daily prayer life, to try to “catch” Him. (fish symbol)

And really, the qualities one needs to be a good fisherman are also the qualities that one needs in the spiritual life.

The serious fisherman needs the virtues of patience and silence, as he must at times wait for a long time quietly before he gets a bite.

In the same way, if we are serious about prayer, we must have the same virtues of patience and silence. Before we can get a bite, feel the presence and peace of God, we oftentimes have to first quiet our souls, and wait patiently in prayer for God to speak to us.

And like the fisherman, sometimes we will go for long periods of time and catch nothing, not hear God speak to us at all. But the good fisherman doesn’t give up, nor does the person serious about prayer give up, but perseveres in seeking to catch Jesus.

And so, we are called by Jesus to Fish for Men and to Fish for God. And Jesus on His part is forever Fishing for us, forever trying to hook us and bring us into his kingdom.

Jesus is the worlds greatest fisherman, He is able to outsmart and catch the toughest of fishes.

In the Gospel today, the Greek word Matthew uses for the net Peter and Andrew are using makes clear that it was a deep sea fishing net, which had weights on it that made the net sink to the bottom of the sea.

Well, Jesus has his own deep sea net – He can whenever he wants reach down into the deepest darkest parts of a person’s soul, in order to catch them off guard with his love and bring them up from those murky depths.

And finally, as the great British authors GK Chesterton and Evelyn Waugh remind us, even the person who looks to us like they are the furthest away from Jesus has actually has already been hooked by Him without him or her knowing.

Jesus has already caught them “with an unseen hook and an invisible line, which is long enough to let (them) wander to the ends of the world and still bring (them) back with a twitch upon the thread.”

May Christ give us the grace to be good fishers of men and good fishers of Jesus, and may we not be at the end of our lives “the one that got away”, but may Jesus catch us and reel us in, and place us safely on those shores of heaven.