Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

Today in the Gospel Jesus calls fishermen to follow Him to become “fishers of men.” These first disciples would eventually become the apostles–those who are sent into the world to bring the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth.

I remember I once had a clear experience of this scene when I went with our parish team on mission to Haiti. While serving alongside Fr. Louis Merosne and the missionaries from his parish, we went down to the fishing village, and there we encountered fishermen cleaning their nets and sorting their catch from that day. They lived in what could only be described as abject poverty. They were completely and totally dependent on the luck or skill from day to day at making a catch of fish. The first time we visited and spoke with different villagers through a translator, I was, honestly, pretty dejected.

I thought “What possible good could the Gospel message have for these people who are in such extreme poverty?” So I thought and prayed more and more about this–why even bother preaching here? Was this not just some sort of first-world arrogance?

He draws close to us…

Eventually this gospel scene entered into my mind, and I reflected that the Galilean fishing village that Jesus visited probably looked a lot like the village in Haiti. The men and women of that village lived in what we would describe as abject poverty. But it was here–and really no where else–that Jesus chose to go. It was here that Jesus called His first disciples. It was here where the salvation of the world was first inaugurated and the fishers of men were first chosen.

The next time we went down to the village, I asked the fishermen a simple question: “Why do you think Jesus chose fishermen to be His disciples?” They smiled and responded with different insights: He loved them; they were hard workers; they were close to God.

Today as we ponder the call of Jesus, we are invited to remember that He draws close to us even in our poverty to love and save us, and then to call us on mission with Himself. May we respond as the first disciples did:

At once they left their nets and followed him…