The first followers of Jesus were simple fishermen and in today’s post I am going to put forth a pithy piscary example of how Christians should approach the topic of Evangelization.
To begin the very first command Jesus gave to the Apostles occurred in Matthew 28:19 when he said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, God makes it clear that EVERYONE is called to hear the good news of his Resurrection! I know this may sound cliché, but the example of Peter, James, and John being called by Jesus to become fishers of men is an extremely appropriate and ever applicable way to speak of how we should approach evangelization.
I am not an expert in fishing. I have a couple family members who fish for a living, but alas, I can count on one hand the total times I have been fishing in my lifetime. Nevertheless, last month my family and I went fishing with my father-in-law. While a lot of things are necessary for fishing I will highlight only two things that directly apply to evangelization as well: patience and fishhooks.
First, patience is essential to fishing especially when we went because it took over thirty minutes before we caught anything. The same is true for spreading our faith. We have to wait and lead others to Christ on God’s time. God is not giving commission-based raises on how many converts we pull in, rather I image God wants us to patiently wait for the right people to be placed in our life that need our help or hooking to lead them to the Catholic Church.
This now leads to be the second thing needed for fishing– a fishhook. Without that barbed instrument on the end of the line it would be nearly impossible to hook and capture a fish. Likewise, I tend to see Jesus’ command to be fishers of men (see Matthew 4:19) in a more nuanced way, namely, that we should be the hook that captures people and keeps them on God’s line. I mean imagine the greatest evangelists in the history of the Catholic Church: St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi–what did they all have in common? They all suffered from a “barbed past”. Paul was a killer, Augustine was a sex addict, and Francis came from a miserable family. However, just like a fishhook is designed to be sharp and curved at the end to hook a fish’s gums so too God uses saints that have overcome a checkered and barbed past to help Him reel in new people into the Catholic Church.
My challenge to you, my readers, is this: if you sense that God has placed certain people in your life to evangelize to please do not be afraid to do so. The best witness to evangelize our faith is to hear from people that have suffered yet maintained a steadfast faith in God. Do not shy away from a “barbed” or hurtful past. Open yourself up to share your faith story. I truly feel God is calling me to work in a secular workplace to shine forth his truth. As a matter of fact, I had a couple co-workers interested in my faith and I feel called by God to be his “fishhook”. But I need to be patient and allow Him to do most of the reeling in; I am simply His evangelical instrument and He the Divine fisherman.