THIRD SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B.
24th January 2021
Jonah 3:1-5,10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20.
In today’s gospel, Jesus Christ called his first four apostles. This even took place at the famous and busy fishing hub of Israel, the sea of Galilee. Many gospel commentaries claim that seven of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen. The gospel passage we read stated that Jesus promised to make these men “fishers of men”! Our concern is the relation between fishing and his mission to proclaim the Good News of salvation.
The fishing industry in Jesus’ time was already a successful one. The sea of Galilee was a major fishing hub in Israel. According to the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, the sea accommodated two hundred and thirty fishing boats during the time of Jesus. The men Peter, Andrew, James and John, were successful and independent in the business of fishing. In Luke chapter five we noticed that because of the tedious and demanding nature of the job, both families – Peter and Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee – were in partnership. This is because casting a net in deep waters required at least two to three boasts. Could it be their success and partnership that Jesus wanted to utilize for his ministry?
Fishing in deep water is a courageous profession requiring one to travel into treacherous waters. A fisherman must be a master of the weather, temperature, wind and water. The cooperation among fishermen to bring in a ton of fish will see them casting their nets seven to eight times during the night. The astonishing reality is that they may spend hours during the night without a single catch! But a fisherman never gives up! The greatest challenge of the industry is the imbalance between work and result. A discouraging factor in life is when work is not met result! Fishermen know that it is possible to get their skills right without a single catch. Their answer to this challenge is always consistency and perseverance. This is why when Jesus instructed Peter to deep his net into the water for a catch after a whole night’s fruitless effort, he did not hesitate. In Luke chapter five, Peter replied to Jesus; “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets. “To give up is not the fisherman’s option! Perseverance is the reason Jesus chose these bright, hardworking, robust, independent fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John as his first followers to help him proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. It was the miracle of a huge catch to sinking point that made Peter realize that God makes use of our skills in his work of evangelization. A priest like the fisherman works very hard for others but he knows that it is only up to each person’s freedom along with God’s action in their soul that brings about a true conversion.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.