“’Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” – Mt 4:19-20
The call of Andrew and the first disciples is at once inspiring and daunting to me. How can he and the first disciples follow someone they hardly knew, in such a decisive and definitive way? Like others, I have been captivated and have followed. But my fears, sins, and limitations have often kept me back. It seems as if the more I follow Christ, the more I am challenged to be countercultural, the more I am confronted with my failures and unfaithfulness. There is a spirit within me that resists.
Yet, something greater is also at work. Perhaps this greater power lies in Jesus’ invitation.
We are drawn to greater life. My older brother and I were drawn to our first Silent Retreat when we saw how life-giving it was to our aunt and cousin. They left for the retreat as faith-filled women; they came back as people who have fallen in love with Christ. We were drawn to a greater life emerging in them. Like, Andrew in the John’s Gospel, they accepted the invitation to “come and see,” to a personal encounter with Jesus. He is the draw to greater life, the spirit that overcomes our fear and attachment to our old ways of seeing and thinking.
The word for “fish” in today’s Gospel can also be translated as “catch”. Unlike catching fish, which ultimately kills, Jesus’ invitation to “catch people” gives life. It involves being drawn more into the life of God. Consequently, like Andrew, we are drawn to invite others to be “caught” up into greater life.
Pope Francis says it well: “The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: ‘Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others’” (Evangelli Gaudium, 10).
Whether you and I have never encountered Jesus in a life-giving way or are currently sapped by a humdrum, non-transformative living, perhaps there is an invitation for us today:
Will we let the gaze of Jesus to draw us into greater life with God? Will we ask God for the grace to face our present fears and failures yet focus on Jesus’ merciful love and gaze? Perhaps this will help: