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The Synoptic gospels make it clear that Jesus does not begin his ministry until the Baptizer has completed his while in John’s gospel he begins it before the Baptist’s imprisonment, (Mt 4:12f; Mk 1:14f; Lk 3:20; John 1:29f). In today’s gospel, (Mt 4:12- 23), Jesus moves to Capernaum, a larger crossroads town by the sea of Galilee from Nazaret, his tiny hometown. He continues preaching John’s message of repentance, (cf s1S #60, 12/5/21; s1S#77 Repent 3/20/22). Matthew encapsulates his ministry in a summary statement: Jesus was teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news and healing, (v 23). Along the way, he calls his disciples, at least four of them were fishermen.

The word “halieus” ( ἁλιεύς ) denotes a ‘fisher’ in a literal sense, (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Lk 5:2; with its cognate verb ‘to go fishing’, John 21:3). But with Jesus’ note of clarification that they will be “fishers of men”, it turns metaphorical. This phrase is reminiscent of Jer 16:16, (where God will send many fishermen to the nations to catch those who turned their back on him).

The symbolism of fishing for missionary enterprise is found also in Ez 47:10; in Lk 5:1-11, the call of Simon in particular, and in the parable about the net, Mt 13:47. The fishing metaphor is further continued by the verb used in 4:21 of the reading, where the fishermen were said to be “mending their nets”. “katartizō” is used six times by Paul (Gal 6:1; 1Cor 1:10; 2Cor 13:11; Eph 4:12; Rom 9:22), twice in Hebrews (11:3, 13:21) and in 1 Peter (5:10) where the sense is “restore, repair, make perfect, fitted or adjust. The symbolism of fishing, casting, and mending nets are figures of the future ministry of the disciples, which includes caring, healing, and even saving. And with the detail of leaving their nets, and even their father Zebedee, it underlines the finality of their response to the call of Jesus to that ministry.

God calls us all to be fishers of men. Yes, all of us, not only ordained ministers, are called to discipleship and service. May we as co-fishers of our Lord cast our nets by bringing his message to the world and handing on the torch of faith that no one may walk in darkness. For he is our light and salvation, (cf 1st reading, Is 8:23-9:3; Res. Ps.).

s1S#77 Repent (3/20/22)

s1S#60 Repentance (12/5/21)

The noun “metanoia” ( μετανοία ) or verb “metanoeō” (μετανοεω) is already a part of our faith-life vocabulary. Literally, it means “turning/to turn back away”, echoing the OT word ‘shûb’ (שׁ֣וּב),

(cf 1Kgs 8:47, Is 59:20; Dn 9:13), which connotes not just a change of one’s mind or outlook but an abrupt about-face in moral conduct. This radical redirection signifies a new walking with God, ongoing in nature, in separation from sin, and a shift from a worldly path to an engagement with God. Thus in NT, it refers exclusively to ‘turning from one’s sins’ (Mt 3:2; Mk 1:15; Lk 13:3,5; Acts 2:38, 17:30, 26:30).

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