They were just minding their own business, doing the same old ordinary things they always did: fishing and boating. It was such an unpredictable trade. According to the scriptures (Matthew 4:18-22) these men, Peter and Andrew, fished with nets, meaning they had to go out into waters deep enough to ensnare the schools of fish. They must have spent a lot of time waiting and waiting for a catch. I imagine that they did a lot of talking, as fishermen are inclined to do.
"So, how's business these days?" Andrew might have asked as the waves lapped up gently against their small boat.
"Same old, same old," Peter might have replied. "Just barely making enough to make ends meet, ya know what I mean? I hate coming home empty-handed. My mother-in-law throws a fit!"
"You're telling me!" Andrew might have agreed. "At this rate, how the heck am I gonna pay all those Roman taxes?"
The fishermen shared a knowing laugh, reveling in the special bond that brothers and friends share. And then they saw Him. On the shore. Calling out to them.
"Say, who is that strange man out there?" Andrew might have asked.
"I dunno," Peter might have said. "He must be crazy. What's he saying?" They both listened carefully for they were out quite a distance in the water.
"Follow me!" called the man on the shore. "Come and fish with me!"
"He IS crazy!" Andrew might have said. "What do you think of that?" There was no reply. "Peter?" Andrew turned and was astonished to see that his brother had pulled their nets and tilted their sail towards the shore. "What the heck are you doing?!"
Peter sailed on in silence. He was focusing on the man at the shore. There was something about him that he couldn't put his finger on, something compelling, even at this distance. As the boat approached the beach he got a better glimpse of the man, who was smiling at him.
"What's he staring at?" wondered Peter as he started to see the stranger more clearly. "It's almost as if he knows me."
"I still think he's crazy," Andrew said as he glanced sadly at the empty nets. What a wasted trip this had been! Then he, too, had a good look at the man.
"Come, follow me," said he. "Come fish for people with me."
I like to think that there must have been something truly magnetic and inviting about this man, whom the brothers came to know as Jesus of Nazareth. What was it about him that inspired the fishermen to literally drop everything and follow him? Perhaps somehow, through their barely acknowledged discontent, they saw in Jesus a spark that might ignite their lives.
Funny thing about meeting Jesus. According to the gospels, anyone who encountered him was changed. Sick people became well. Hungry people were fed, four thousand at a time. Sinners were forgiven. The curious were intrigued. The complacent were disturbed. And the fishermen became disciples. In the ordinary situations of their lives, Simon Peter, Andrew and the sons of Zebedee heeded the call to do something extraordinary.
"Come and fish with me," said Jesus. And their lives would never be the same again.
Chances are, Jesus has already called us, but we might have been too far away or too preoccupied in our busy-ness and our distractions to listen. Do you hear him calling? Could that be his voice that you hear in the scriptures that are proclaimed at Mass every Sunday? Could that be Jesus asking for help in that kid at school who everyone seems to avoid? Is that Jesus calling in the voice of the lonely folks who have no one to visit them in the rest home? Could Jesus possibly be trying to reach out to you through your parents, or in the friend you might not be talking with anymore? Is Jesus calling out to you in your growing awareness that there must be something you can do to help make the world a better place? Listen carefully for his compelling voice in the people and events of your life. That voice you hear just might be Jesus calling out to you, "Come and follow me."
I have to be honest and say that following Jesus will not be easy. Take a minute to look up the other scriptural references in this song: Matthew 16:24-26 (the cost of discipleship) and Matthew 19:16-22 (the rich young man). It's easy to talk the talk and sing, "Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, yes, Lord!" But are you also willing to walk the walk with Jesus to the cross?
That's what this song is about. Listen very very carefully. Consider the possibility, as Peter and his fishing buddies did, that Jesus is calling you to do something extraordinary with your life. Impossible? In Matthew 19:25-26 Jesus tells us, "Nothing is impossible with God!"
And your life will never be the same again.
-- Ken Canedo