FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: Fishers of Men
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Mark 6:7-13
Jesus established His Church on the foundation of the twelve apostles. In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus sends out the Twelve on a mission and gave them specific instructions. We would naturally expect that since Jesus is thinking of a worldwide organization that is to last for the rest of time, He would choose the best and most capable men of the world. To our surprise, we realize that these were mostly rugged and unlettered fishermen of Galilee led by Simon, son of John. Jesus chose them because, in His unfathomable wisdom, He knows so well that we can learn a lot from the lifestyle of fishermen, especially in the task of evangelization.
We can mention five important lessons. And to help us remember these, we may use the acronym, PERTH. Incidentally, Perth is a city in Western Australia that is very familiar with the way of life of fishermen. It is famous for its ancient port, Freemantle, the home of many ships and fishing boats.
P stands for the virtue of patience. A fisherman cannot force or hurry the fish. He waits patiently for the fish to come. God has His own appointed time to touch the hearts and minds of people. A preacher of God’s word must learn to be patient. He has no way of knowing what is going on in people’s minds and hearts. He just has to continue preaching, and it is God who will touch and lead them to conversion, in His time.
E is for environment. The fisherman must know when and where to find the fish. He must be in the proper environment: the right fishing area, the proper tide and time of the day or night, as well as the weather. The Good News must be preached at the right time and place. It is foolish to preach inside the noisy train or bus, nor in a bar. There are proper places, times and occasions conducive for effective preaching. And if the people in a certain locality do not welcome God’s messenger, he can just “shake the dust off (his) feet in testimony against them” and move on to the next village.
R stands for resolve, or courage and determination. Fishing is not only difficult but also dangerous. The sea is unpredictable and can be treacherous. Similarly, preaching God’s Word can be hazardous. Jesus warned His disciples about this: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt 10:16). There are many enemies of God who will try to destroy the messenger to stifle the message. But the messenger must continue with firm courage and resolve to fulfill his mission even amid violent opposition. As St. Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).
T is for the right technique or the skill to catch fish. He must know what equipment to use: hook and line, traps or nets. And he should also know how to use them properly and effectively. Jesus was very effective in His preaching by using parables and common everyday examples, which people could easily resonate. If He were around today, He would surely use the modern tools of communications and public speaking.
H stands for the virtue of humility. The fisherman must always remain invisible to the fish. Otherwise, they will not come near. Such is the case in preaching. The central focus should always be Jesus and His message, while the preacher must remain invisible. He is to attract people to Christ, and not to himself. St. John the Baptist has this always in mind: “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
There is one final note. I was born and grew up in an island town. Our house is just a few meters from the sea. At night, especially when there is no moonlight, the sea is littered with lights coming from the boats of fishermen. Such a beautiful sight to behold indeed! What attracts fish most effectively is light. The best time to catch fish is during moonless nights. When it is dark, the fisherman uses a gas lamp on his boat. And the fish just come near the boat because of the light. It then becomes easy for the fisherman to catch them.
This is what Jesus is telling us: “You are the light of the world.” The best way to become fishers of men is to reflect the light of Christ. We ourselves should be the living Gospel in the world. As Pope Paul VI rightly noted, “modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”.
Let us become shining lights in this world by the witness of our Christian lives. Then we become effective fishers of men and beloved disciples of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches