Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fishers of men
Points to note
This reading continues to introduce the public ministry of Jesus. A recurring image is the sea. Jesus’ hometown was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a lake. It is therefore not surprising that the first disciples he called were fishermen.
Matthew has a habit of referring to obscure Old Testament passages. You see, he was aiming to convert the Jews by pointing out that Jesus was the one foretold by the prophets. It will not be necessary to dwell on this aspect with younger children.
Note that the missal has a short version of the reading, which I am ignoring. This is because the short version comprises only the prophecy rather than the calling to be fishers of men, which is more relevant to children.
Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom,
and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.
Explain where Jesus lives: in a town by the side of a lake. You may wish to use the maps to show where Nazareth and Capernaum are. Ask what we would expect to see in a lakeside town. Get them to imagine the scene.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
(Mt 4: 12-23)
When he heard that John has been arrested Jesus went back to Galilee. He then left Nazareth and lived in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has risen.
From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
He went round in the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.
This is the Word of the Lord
Has anybody gone fishing before? What do you need to go fishing? Hopefully you would have some experience of fishing to be able to talk about it. Get them to discuss not just the things they bring along to go fishing but that a good fisherman always prepare; he needs a lot of patience; he must have a good sense to where to fish; he must have perseverance; for those who go out into the open sea to fish, courage to face storms at sea is required; it may also be necessary to keep himself out of sight to lure fish; and anything you can think of.
In the reading, Jesus called some fishermen to become fishers of men instead. What did he mean by being fishers of men? How does someone become fishers of men? Basically, the same qualities needed of a fisher of fish are also needed of a fisher of men. To talk to people about Jesus, patience and perseverance is needed, because people sometimes do not want to listen; courage is needed, as some Christians have died to spread the Gospel; a good Christian must always remember that to teach others about Christ, he must always keep Christ, the ultimate teacher, in sight and not himself.
Are we also called to be fishers of men, or was it only the disciples? Of course we too are fishers of men!! Doesn’t a fisherman out in the open sea get drenched? Haven’t we too once been drenched? At our baptism, we too are called. Discuss how we can tell others about Jesus and the Gospel. We not only tell others about the Christian way of living by preaching to them, but also by our way of living.
Do you know that the fish was once a very important symbol of Christians? This was because the initials of the words ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour’ in Greek spelt the word ‘fish’. Christians used to draw a fish on the walls, of the underground rooms where they had mass, as a secret symbol to other Christians that that room has been used by other Christians for mass.
The reading tells about how Jesus called Peter to be an apostle. Jesus later made Peter the leader of the apostles. This means that our first pope was a fisherman. That is why the ring that the Pope wears has a fisherman inscribed on it and why it is called the ring of the fisherman.