No Fishing Net, No Fishing Pole, No Problem!

Follow Me
Mixed Media Bible Art Journailing
Word Art Wednesday #475-#476
WOYWW #607
Paint Party Friday - Week 47 Year 10
 “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  As I read this verse from today’s Gospel in preparation for my sermon, I couldn’t help remembering the Rev. David Chalk.  I was the Head of School at St. James Episcopal School, during the first 6 1/2 years of his tenure.  During that time, he asked me to join him on a missionary trip down to Southeast Mexico, in which I would serve as one of the team’s translators.  Although I didn’t know how I was going to pay for the trip, where I would be staying, how safe that region of the country was, or how I would handle the translations, I agreed.  I figured God would help me work out all the details.

It was such a blessed experience, that I agreed to go on a second trip a year or two later.  Translating was a major part of my job, since not all the team members spoke Spanish, and vice versa.  It was amazing, for I learned that I could literally translate simultaneously from one language to the other, as a person spoke.  I could also switch from one language to another, in the blink of an eye.  These are skills I did not know I had, but God helped me develop them at the time.  I also learned that not everyone spoke Spanish in that region of Mexico.  Mayan ancestry runs deep, and there are still some indigenous people that only speak their dialects.  Although awkward at first, it was a glorious experience to be able to pray with some of them.  They were so grateful, as they lovingly thanked me in their dialects for my prayers.  Their hospitality was awe inspiring as well, as they had us over for lunch in their palapas.  These were their humble dwellings, which had thatched roofs made of dried palm leaves and dirt floors, but everything was SO clean.  I also got to work with the priests, whose working conditions and salaries were sad, to say the least.  However, they worked diligently as servants of Christ, which I found humbling and inspirational.  They were so appreciative of Fr. David’s continuing ed seminar, as well as the art responses I correlated to Fr. David’s lessons.  “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

As a priest, I continue to follow Jesus, and fish for people.  However, as I exemplified through my story, the fishing of people is not a task exclusive to deacons, priests, and bishops, nor to nuns or to monks.  Jesus’s call is to everyone of us, regardless of our age, gender, race, ethnicity, educational background, or any other difference you can possibly think of.  In the words of Deuteronomy 7:7-8, “If God has set his heart on you and has chosen you, it was not because you were the greatest people… it was for love of you.”  We don’t have to be perfect or the most righteous, the Bible is filled with imperfect human beings doing the work of God.  There’s an old meme that I saw once that reminds us that “Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, and Abraham was old.”  For crying out loud, I’ve confessed to many of you about my prodigal son years during my days in college.  I’m not proud of them, but through God’s grace, I was able to overcome them as I decided to follow Jesus.  So what is your excuse?  Can God use you or not?  God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.  Remember my story?  “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

By answering to his call, by following him, by becoming his disciples, we are called to holiness.  Our call to holiness is the invitation to an enduring personal encounter with God in himself.  We encounter him through the people we find in our lives, like the poor indigenous people I encountered in Mexico; or through juvenile delinquents in our judicial system; or through the homeless people living in the streets of our community; or through the sick and dying people in our hospitals and hospice; or through the migrants trying to find a better and safer life for their families in our beloved border towns.  Through these encounters and our gracious response to them, we are gradually transformed into his likeness and are progressively purified of all that is un-God-like in us.  Opportunities are abundant.  Unfortunately, it’s too easy to reject his calling.  It’s too easy to make up excuses.  It’s too easy to worry about what others in our social circles will say and do.  It’s too easy to leave things for tomorrow.  However, when God calls us, we need to answer immediately as his servants.  We should be ready to serve his sheep in distress, even if they may be different or perceived as enemies.  Tomorrow may not come, and leaving things for later may leave us regretting opportunities in the future.  The time is NOW!  “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

So let us open our eyes.  Let us listen to his call.  Let us take action.  And remember, no fishing net, no fishing pole, no problem.  “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”