Archdiocese News - 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Mt 4: 18-23) [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version]

Jesus was walking by the lakeside; and as he walked he called Peter and Andrew, James and John. It is not to be thought that this was the first time that he had seen them, or they him. As John tells the story, at least some of them were already disciples of John the Baptist (John1:35). No doubt they had already talked with Jesus and had already listened to him, but in this moment there came to them the challenge once and for all to throw in their lot with him.

There is a story about Xenophon when he first met Socrates. They met at a narrow lane. Socrates barred his path with his stick. Socrates asked him if he knew where he could buy this and that, and if he knew where this and that were made? Xenophon gave the required information. Then Socrates asked him:” do you know where men are made good and virtuous”? “No,” said the young Xenophon. “Then”. Said Socrates:” follow me and learn!”

Jesus, too, called on these fishermen to follow him. It is interesting to note what kind of men they were. They were not men of great scholarship, or influence, or wealth, or social background. They were not poor, they were simple working people with no great background, and certainly, anyone would have said, with no great future.

It was these ordinary men whom Jesus chose. Once there came to Socrates a very ordinary man called Aeschines. “I am a poor man” said Aeschines” I have nothing else to give, but I give you myself”. “Do you not see” said Socrates, “that you are giving me the most precious thing of all?” what Jesus needs is ordinary folk who will give him themselves. He can do anything with people like that.

Further these men were fishermen. It has been pointed out by many scholars that the good fisherman must possess these very qualities which will turn him into the good fishers of men.

1- He must have patience: He must learn to wait patiently until the fish will take the bait. If he is restless and quick to move he will never make a fisherman. The good fisher of men will have need of patience. It is but rarely in preaching or in teaching that we will see quick results. We must learn to wait.

2- He must have perseverance: He must learn never to be discouraged, but always to try again. The good preacher and teacher must not be discouraged when nothing seems to happen. He must always be ready to try again.

3- He must have courage: As the old saying goes when you pray for the protection of the gods:” My boat is so small and the sea is so large.” He must be ready to risk and to face the fury of the sea and of the gale. The good preacher and teacher must be well aware that there is always a danger in telling men the truth. The man who tells the truth, more often than not takes his reputation and his life in his hands.
4- He must have an eye for the right moment: The wise fisherman knows well that there are times when it is hopeless to fish. He knows when to cast and when not to cast. The good preacher and teacher chooses his moment. There are times when men will welcome the truth and times when they will resent the truth. There are times when the truth will move them, and times when the truth will harden them in their opposition to the truth. The wise preacher and teacher knows that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.

5- He must fit the bait to the fish: One fish will rise to one bait and another to another. Paul said that he became all things to all men if by any chance he might win some”. The wise preacher and teacher knows that the same approach will not win all men. He may even have to know and recognize own limitations. He may have to discover that there are certain spheres in which he himself can work, and others in which he cannot.

6- The wise fisherman must keep himself out of sight: If he reveals his own presence, even his own shadow, the fish will certainly not bite. The wise preacher and teacher will always seek to present others, not with himself, but with Jesus Christ. His aim is to fix men’s eyes, not on himself, but on that figure beyond.

There is much work but few workers. Let us pray to the Lord of the Field to send workers to His farm.


Metropolitan Archbishop Paul

Primate of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines

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