Are You a Fish? Or a Fisherman?

That is the basic question of Life! Hopefully, you are at least a fish! Hopefully also, one day you will be a fisher of people!

Franciscan driving boat (2)

Our lives on earth can be descried in a very simple way: first we must be saved, then we must work to save others. It really is that simple! Regretfully however, most Christians never make it past being saved, and so they never see themselves as working to save others. I.e. most Christians are Fish, not Fishermen!!! In the Gospel of Luke 5:1-11 (5th Sunday of ordinary time), Jesus calls his disciples who are fishermen, and makes them fishers of people. It is the moment of the first disciples’ call; to have a Vocation. We are all called to have a Vocation. This is what Jesus means by being a fisher of men. A vocation is a way of life that serves God and his kingdom, it is a sharing in the ministry of Christ. It is true however, that before we can have a Vocation, we must first be saved ourselves! We must first be caught in the net, of the Kingdom of God!

As fish, we are caught in the nets of salvation, the church, through our Baptism. In baptism we receive salvation, we are brought from the kingdom of darkness (original sin) to the kingdom of God (salvation) through water and the Holy Spirit which forgives us of our sins, and gives a share in God’s divine life, which is eternal. However, baptism does more than this! And our life is about more than this! In the rite of Baptism, after the person is baptized with water “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, the person is next anointed with Chrism (oil) and the priest prays in words similar to the following: ‘May you share in the Ministry of Christ, who was priest, prophet and king’. After we are saved, we do not simply spend the rest of our lives only following the commandments and keeping from sin. As we mature in the faith, we must share in the ministry of Christ, and seek to find the lost, to proclaim the kingdom of God to others, to proclaim the Gospel; to be a fisher of men.

Most Christians, I believe, can claim they are saved, but cannot claim they are sharing in the ministry of Jesus. Most of us are not fully living our baptismal call. A vocation is a sharing in the ministry of Jesus. Most of us do not seek or live vocations, we simply have jobs, earn a living, and try to be a good person. This is better than not being a good person, but it does fall short of what God is asking of us. That is why this world is such a dark place, we do not live our vocations!

A vocation is using your gifts and talents to serve the kingdom of God, to bring others to salvation. In this Gospel, Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen. He took their same gifts and skills but reoriented them to be used for more than just “earning a living” but to build up the kingdom of God. How does God wish to reorient your skills towards serving Him? E.g. Are you a musician? If so, do you use those God given skills to make music that promotes the world’s values, or God’s values? If a teacher, am I using that position to witness to my faith and God’s kingdom, or simply to teach human wisdom? If I am a parent, am I teaching my children simply to be good, get a good education, get a good job that will make them secure? Or, am I teaching them to learn about God, to listen to his voice, and serve His kingdom? This list of examples goes on, I leave you and the Holy Spirit to apply it to your life.

I close with the following analogy. When I was a child, our family each summer went on a one week fishing trip together. We’d travel into the wilderness, and rent a cabin for a week. We’d be excited, get up early in the morning, fish all day, come back and cook up fish, sit around the table and campfire after and tell stories all night. We’d be full of joy and energy. We called this a VACATION. Well, in truth, our VOCATION should also be a vacation! Can we say that what we do each day for work is as energizing and enjoyable? When we are living a VOCATION we are using our skills and talents that God gave us, because we enjoy it, but we are also using them for a purpose that gives us meaning! This is a VOCATION, and living a VOCATION gives us Joy! Best of all, we are assisted by Jesus himself, and regularly experience His power and help in our ministry! To live a VOCATION, should be similar to a VACATION! We need more Christians to live their Vocation, to be fishermen, not simply fish!

Franciscans fishing_1

So, come on, Let’s go Fishing!


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