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By Fr. Matthew Habiger, OSB | Fr. Matthew is a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, KS. This is the second part of his homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read the first part here.
What does it mean to be a fisher of men? The disciples would eventually continue on the work of Jesus. They would bring people closer to God. They would bring the message of God’s good news to people everywhere, to the farthest ends of the earth. They would help people discover God as a personal God, who wants to be in a relationship of love with us. They would help the people to become a people of God, a gathering of the faithful, the Church. They would apply the great saving deed of Jesus to us, His Passion, Death and Resurrection, by means of the Seven Sacraments. In short, they would make it possible for Jesus to share his teachings with every generation, and to provide his divine life through the sacraments, to every generation.
Jesus wants to bring us closer to God. He wants us to know Him, to love Him and to give glory to Him. He made Peter and the 12 “fishers of men,” men who would draw others closer to God. That is what Jesus wants each of us to do. Jesus wants to work through other human instruments. He believes in a division of labor. He leaves something for each one of us to do. He wants us to share with others the great treasures we have found for ourselves. How do we become fishers of men? How do we bring people closer to God? Here are some examples.
Spouses bring each other closer to God by their commitment to make the total gift of themselves to the other. Their greatest desire is to bring their spouse to Heaven.
Parents bring their children closer to God by their efforts to share the gift of Faith with them. What parents have discovered in their relationship with God, that is what they want their children to experience. Parents are the first teachers of the Faith to their children.
As citizens, we are to bring our compatriots closer to God. Here things get more challenging. We live in an increasingly secularized world, a world that pretends that there is no need for God, that the world will get on without God. There is a loss of a sense of the transcendent today, that there is something beyond this world. Many people today are completely wrapped up in the affairs of these times, with their own little world.
But when we come to the end of our lives, what will we take with us into eternity? Then we will ask ourselves “what are the accomplishments that I can be very proud of? And what do I regret having neglected, or became aware of only too late?”
It is a great challenge to meet people where they are. National moods and emphases constantly change. The cultural climate varies from country to country. We would find Western Europe and Canada to be much more secularized than here. We would find the countries in the former Soviet Union to be struggling to overcome the aching wounds of emptiness forced upon them by atheistic Marxism. Yet, these are the challenges the disciples of Jesus are faced with. By our efforts to bring others closer to God, we are advancing the Kingdom of God.
Priests and religious are closely associated with bringing people closer to God. When we see them, we want to be reminded that the Kingdom of God is elsewhere, and that is what we are preparing ourselves for. When we hear their teaching, their preaching, we want to be drawn more deeply into the mystery of God and his great love for us.
God has given us all the means we need to accomplish our purpose on this earth: to know Him, to love Him, and to give glory to Him. He leaves us in our freedom to choose to take advantage of them.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! send me’” (Is 6:8).
The Gregorian Institute is Benedictine College’s initiative to promote Catholic identity in public life by equipping leaders (the Gregorian speech digest), training leaders (the Gregorian Fellows), defending the faith (the Memorare Army for Religious Freedom), and celebrating Catholic identity (the Catholic Hall of Fame).