Jesus gives his disciples many instructions and their duties as disciples. For example, in the great commission in Matthew 26:19, he instructs them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” This is a message for the Apostles and all of us as baptized Christians. The question is, are we doing it? Many of us have lost the true meaning of the gospel because we think that the commands given were for the disciples of that time. But that is the furthest from the truth; the gospel is the living word of God, meaning it is as active and alive now as it was two thousand years ago.
This brings me to another mission that Jesus gave his disciples. He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Are we followers of Jesus? Are we fishers of men? I believe that the message and commandments of Jesus have become so watered down that no one thinks the message is for them. It’s always for someone else. I’ve heard hundreds of excuses why “I can’t be fishers of men.” The men that Jesus chose were not qualified to be fishers of men, but Jesus knew that if they accepted the call to be with him, He would change them and make them fit for the service of the kingdom of God. That’s precisely what he does for us! The problem with us is that so many times, we reject the call of Jesus because we rely on ourselves to complete the mission when we should put our trust in God for us to start and continue in the mission.
Many of us have no clue how to fish (especially myself), but we know the basics. Put bait on the line, cast out the pole, and hope for a bite. Now, if we don’t get anything, we have to change the bait. The same principle applies to “fishers of men.” The lines you cast out also have bait: scripture, catechism, testimonies, lives of the saints, etc. Figure out what bait suits the men/women you preach to and use it. When you go fishing, you have different baits depending on what kind of fish you are trying to catch. As with evangelization, the church has many tools and resources to help bring souls to the kingdom.
Remember, first, you must be with Jesus before bringing anyone to him. You must be with him side-by-side with the sacraments and His word. The disciples left everything to be with Jesus; you don’t have to do that; just accept the calling to evangelize. Second, you must pray and invoke the power of the Holy Spirit for a fruitful journey. And in the famous words of St. John Paul II, “Do not be afraid.”