Call of the Apostles
Homily of Fr. James Hademenos Sunday June 17, 2012 Assumption of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church
We read this morning(Matthew 4: 18-23):
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.”
These were the first disciples that Jesus called. He said to them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”He’d known these men before, as we read in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Andrew had been a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when he heard the message, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” he, together with John, left to meet Jesus. Andrew, then, introduced his brother Simon to Jesus, Who gave him the new name of Peter. The brothers then went back to Galilee and to their fishing business. Now, Jesus was calling them to come and follow Him.
Jesus chose these lowly fishermen, as well as James and John, the sons of Zebedee, to become fishers of men. Soon He would choose eight others, including Matthew, another resident of Capernaum. They were all called to follow Christ, to be taught by Him, and to be sent out into the world to bring Light to the whole world. And those fishermen left everything to follow Christ. They left their nets, their boats, and their families. Why? They realized that the Kingdom of God was of far more importance than their personal business.
Christ calls His followers to be fishers of men, to serve, to work for the Kingdom of God, to bring Light to the world. And serving God is not a life of ease, comfort, and recreation. Serving God includes suffering, and it often includes martyrdom. In fact, every one of these first disciples that Jesus called, except for St. John, suffered the violent deaths of martyrs.
Christ calls His followers to be fishers of men. To be a “fisher of men” means to bring others to Christ and to His Holy Church. This is what Christ calls His followers to do. The rich and famous of the world who don’t know and follow Christ are bumping around in darkness themselves. Who are the true stars? Those Saints who turn many to righteousness, who bring them to the Light of Christ and to His Holy Church!
And this is precisely what Saints Cyril and Methodius did in going out to be Apostles to the Slavs. They dedicated their lives to turning many to righteousness. They began the work of bringing the Slavic to His Holy Church. All of our Saints were fishers of men. All of them dedicated their lives to turning many to righteousness, to bringing them to His Holy Church.
Are we casting the net to bring those around us to the Light of Christ? Are we truly His followers? Are we calling people to repentance? Repentance means changing one’s mind, so that one’s views, values, goals, and ways are changed, and one’s whole life is lived differently. Mind and judgment, will and affections, behavior and lifestyle, motives and plans: all are involved. Repenting means turning to live a new and different life. The call to repentance is an integral part of the Gospel. It was in the preaching of St. John the Baptist. It was in the preaching of Jesus Christ. It was the message of the Holy Apostles. It was the message of Saints Cyril and Methodius. It was the message of All the Saints.
The idea that there can be salvation without repentance, that one can embrace Christ as Savior while refusing Him as Lord, is a dangerous error. True followers of Christ accept Him as their Lord. They dedicate their lives to Him. They work for His Kingdom. They serve His Holy Church. And they become ”fishers of men”.
Are we fishers of men? Are we turning many to righteousness, bringing them to the Light of Christ and to His Holy Church? Are we dedicating our lives to Christ? Are we willing to suffer for Christ?
All of us are called to be fishers of men, to bring the Light of Christ to the