What is the Core of Our Mission?

by Ben Cheng
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8:23-9:3

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Matthew 4:12-23

The reading for this Sunday is one of the most lyrical and beautiful passages in the Gospel. It is the story of Jesus calling the first disciples. The story is right and peaceful. It gets at the very heart of Jesus’ life and work, revealing what He is about. He comes into the world as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, a representative from the community that is God—and thus His fundamental purpose is to draw the world into community around Him.

"He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men’" (Mt.4:19). There is so much packed into this simple line. Notice the way how God acts. He is the initiative of grace, just like the Father of the Prodigal Son who “ran to his son” (Lk 15:20). In a similar way, Jesus comes out, and He approaches the first disciples in a very direct way. He is not offering a doctrine, a theology, nor a set of beliefs, but rather He is offering himself, and inspires them saying, “Follow me, and walk behind me, become my disciple, apprentice to me”.

The most important part of living a Christian life is to walk after Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and to turn one's life over to Him. It is not mainly be about adhering to a system of beliefs (even though this is important), but primarily, it is about cultivating a friendship with a person. Christianity is falling in love with God who is the great family of love, and Jesus is to bring this power of love and communion into this broken world. Therefore, the act by which Jesus gathers people around Himself is essential to His life and His work. He is "breaking” into this world, and is fishing us out of the place of darkness, hatred, violence, self-reproach, and guilt. He wants to lead us out of this world into His own; like the first disciples, those who fall in love with Him are going to heed the call to do exactly what He does. They also want to fish people out of the darkness and brokenness. This is also the task of our Church, to be converted to Christ, and to come after Him. Evangelization, proclaiming the faith, and drawing people to Christ, is not an option. That is the heart of the matter! In Fountain of Love and Life, it is the core of our mission, “to stir into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim1:6). Our obligation is to fish them, and to draw them to Christ. This is absolutely essential for all believers, not just for some people in the Church to worry about. All of us should become fishers of people!

"Immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him" (Mt 4:22). Jesus has stirred the "Imago Dei" in them, the image and likeness of God, and they say “Yes”! This is what their life is about; to follow Him, to be like Him, to be fishers of people. Let the Lord stirs the same image of God in us so that we may follow Him. Let us give up everything and make Him the center of our life.

This is an excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron’s homilies, including “Following The Lord”, “They Abandoned Everything”, and “The Irresistible Call”. For more information, please visit WordOnFire.org.