Fishers of Men – the Second Sunday After Pentecost

This Sunday’s gospel reading comes from St. Matthew 4: 18 – 23. Here, Jesus calls his first disciples: Simon (Peter) and Andrew, James and John. All four men were by occupation fishermen. Our Lord calls them as we read in Mt 4: 19 – 22:

And he says to them [Peter and Andrew], “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother in the boat with their father Zebedee repairing their nets, and he called them. And they immediately left their boat and father and followed him.

These and the other Apostles, and the whole cohort of Jesus’ first disciples, became fishers of men. Their apostolic ministry gathered Jews and Gentiles alike to Christ, that all may be in Christ, and all may exist in the Ship, the Nave, which is the Church. And it is in this Ship that we are transformed into the image of Christ. (It is interesting to note that though we are likened to fish, yet we are to become like the Fish — the Ixthus — the Greek word for fish which became an acronym meaning “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”)

Being gathered into the Church we are to take on the ethos of a new culture, the culture of Christ and his Church. We cannot live as we once did in the world, instead “we are to walk in newness of life” (Rom 6: 4). We have a new existence and we are to take on a new worldview. Being in Christ we are to have a new ontology — an understanding of our being, and Christ being its source. We are to have a new aesthetic — a new perception of what is beautiful and of value. We are to have a new epistemology — a new way of knowing, discerning, and thinking as are fitting for our life in Christ and our life in the Church. And, we are to have a new ethos — a new conduct of life in this new culture. We are given the ways of this new life in the words of the Scriptures, and especially in the Beatitudes — the way of supreme blessedness — which is also found in St. Matthew’s gospel (Mt: 5: 1 – 12). These words of Christ give us the ethos appropriate for our life in the Church, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who are mourning, because they will be comforted. Blessed are the humble, because they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, because they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, because they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. Blessed are the peace makers, because they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you whenever they might insult you and persecute you, and speak evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be glad! for great is your reward in heaven: for thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Clearly, this ethos of our Lord goes against the ethos of the world system.
On days when the Church commemorates lives of the saints, the Beatitudes are read: the saints embodied this way of life. Thus, they are proper citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. With this ethos they evangelized — first by their way of life, second by any words spoken. In this way they too were fishers of men who drew scattered fish into the Ship of the Church, that they may be formed into the image of the Ixthus — Jesus Christ. Consequently, when we live out this same ethos before the world we in turn draw humanity into the Church. We are fishers of men as we continue in the ways of Christ.

In Christ,
Fr. Irenaeus

One Comment on “Fishers of Men – the Second Sunday After Pentecost”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Great message this morning Fr. I especially liked the fish scattered in the sea, the net, the boat being the Church, and us in the nave.


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