Right before Christmas this year I had a pleasant visit with a good friend from college. She moved to Kansas for a job years ago, but we try to see each other once a year. This year, she was excited to tell me about a recent experience - going fishing for the first time. Like me, she had never been fishing before, but she met someone who loves fishing. He was determined that my friend would catch a fish. He had spare rods, so equipment was not a problem, and one chilly November day they set out. When they reached the prime fishing spot, it was frozen over. Not very much, mind you, but enough that this very determined fellow had to hack through the ice, making a hole for their bait. Naturally, the commotion alerted the locals that Something Was There. Surprisingly, by the end of the fishing date, my friend caught four fish. I didn't ask her how big they were!
The Gospel reading for this week showcases Jesus' "fishers of men" call to the first disciples. For the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James, and John, the idea of being fishers of men was just as foreign a concept as fishing itself to me. I know there are lures and bait to attract the fish, the line and pole to reel them in once they are on the hook. The poor fish finds itself swimming in a direction it never meant to go, to a fate it never asked for. When talking about the Jesus' call to serve, the analogy becomes psychologically violent! Backing up a little, the first men we read of Jesus calling to be disciples, when they fished, they used nets to draw in large catches of fish, which they would then sell for their daily bread. This still does not appear to be the smoothest analogy Jesus could have used to attract people to the cause.
In both these cases, though, the constant is the care the fisher must take in their equipment and the personal investment they need to put into fishing, either as hobby or as industry. Being "fishers of men" is not about hauling in huge catches of unaware people into the church, hoodwinking them into believing in Jesus.
We are called to invest care, time, and love.