Fishing for Souls with Jesus

Friday, April 21, 2017

Readings for Friday of the Octave of Easter

Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Bishop and Doctor of the Church – Optional Memorial

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“Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. John 21:6

Every fisherman would love to have the experience that Jesus offered the Apostles in the passage above.  The Apostles were fishing all night and caught nothing.  Then, in the morning, Jesus appeared on the shore but they did not realize it was Him.  He then gave them a simple command to cast their net off the right side of the boat.  And they caught so many fish they could not pull them in.  What an exciting catch!

This catch of fish was much more than just a favor from Jesus to help them with their work.  It was highly symbolic.  The central symbolism is that Jesus was giving the Apostles a new calling.  They would no longer be fishing just for fish, rather, they were now to fish for souls.  And the important part is that if they attempted to do this by their own efforts, they would come up empty handed.  If, however, they did it at the Lord’s command, in His way, within His timing, then their efforts would provide an abundance of good fruit.  More than they could ever imagine!

This miracle of Jesus begins to reveal to the Apostles (and to us) the command that comes to evangelize the world.  This revelation comes after His Resurrection as Jesus gives His final instructions to the Apostles to carry out His mission of salvation.  We should see in this miracle our own call to spread the Good News.  And we must see in this miracle the command to spread the Good News only at the command of Jesus, in His way and within His timing.

Sometimes Christians tend to come up with many “good” ideas to spread the Gospel.  But the key is to humble ourselves before God and realize that we are incapable of spreading the Good News of the Gospel unless the Lord is leading the way and giving the direction.  This tells us we should wait on Him and let Him speak.  We must listen to His voice and respond only when He leads.  Evangelization is a response to Jesus rather than something we do by our own effort.  This is the central message of this miraculous event.

As we continue our Easter Day celebration it is a good time for each of us to reflect upon our own responsibility to evangelize.  We all have a calling to share in this work of Jesus.  It will take on different forms for each of us according to our vocation and mission.  But the real question is this: “Am I responding to the call from Jesus to evangelize in the way He is directing me?”  This is an important question.  We should know that the particular mission Jesus gives us is not entrusted to anyone else.  And He does want to use us. 

Reflect, today, upon this command our Lord gave to the Apostles and hear Him speak this same command to you, calling you to “fish for souls” in accord with His holy will.  Let the Lord speak to you this week and let yourself be open to His direction.  God wants to use you, so make sure you let Him!

Lord, I do want to be used by You.  I do want to evangelize in accord with Your will.  Help me to confidently answer the call, and help me to sincerely listen to the direction You give.  Use me, dear Lord, to save many souls for Your Kingdom.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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