Fr. Tim’s Homily for January 22, 2017

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A


Isaiah 8: 23–9:3

1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17

Matthew 4: 12-23


It is an odd way in which Matthew begins the story of Jesus’ public life in today’s Gospel.  I might have done it differently, having Jesus preach a motivating sermon and then curing a crowd of sick people.  Wouldn’t that get people’s attention?

But Matthew begins the story of Jesus’ public life by having Jesus ask for help from two sets of fisherman-brothers:  Peter and Andrew, James and John.  Jesus called them to follow Him: “Come after Me.”   And then Jesus asked for their help:  “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Why are we here today?  Because Jesus called us by name to be His followers.  And the Son of God asks us to help Him.  “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

So, how many fish have you caught for Jesus?  When was the last time that you cast your net for Him?

We have our answers or, should I more accurately say, our excuses like:  “Well, religion, you know, is a very private and personal thing.”  Yes, there is a private and personal side to our faith, but notice where today’s Gospel encounter takes place.  Jesus saw Peter and Andrew, James and John with their fishing nets by the Sea of Galilee, a public place.  And right then and there He asked them to follow Him.

Jesus came with salvation for the world, and that meant going to where the people are.  As Pope Francis so colorfully put it, “We shepherds need to smell like our sheep.”

We can also object, “I don’t want to be too pushy about my faith.”  That sounds like a very humble statement, but perhaps what it really means is that I am afraid of the response that I might get.  Even Jesus did not always get a good hearing.  But He never stopped inviting others to follow Him.

Another objection is that “I don’t know how to talk about my faith very well.  All they have to do is start quoting Bible passages and throwing questions at me, and I don’t know how to respond.”  Well maybe this fear can lead us to become even better disciples as lifelong learners about our faith so that we can share the fruits of our regular study more confidently.

Notice in today’s Gospel that Jesus did not tell these four men to go and immediately trade in their fishing nets for pulpits.  Rather, He told them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  He asked for their help.  But then He would train them over the next three years how to do this.

So, how many fish have you caught for Jesus?  When was the last time that you cast your net for Him?

A sought-after speaker was engaged to be at a parish for the weekend.  He was told that, upon arriving, he should come to the pastor’s office.  He got to the church all right with GPS but then he saw no signs on the parish grounds to direct him.  Bewildered, he tried for ten minutes to find an unlocked door to get in.  Eventually he did and got to the pastor’s office.

Reflecting on this, he found a parable about how difficult it can be for an outsider to find their way into the church family.  He said that those who already belonged thought that the way in was so obvious.  But those who were seeking to enter might not know how, and may need someone ready and willing to welcome them and show them how to come in.

“Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus says.  Even today, Jesus still calls us and He asks for our help.

This is an excellent day to fish for the Lord.

Ask Jesus from your heart:  “Jesus, what can I do for You today?”