Not a Fisherman

mosaic of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew - jozef sedmak/istock/Getty Images

This story is inspired by Matthew 4:18–22.

I’m curious about this Jesus character. As an investigative journalist, I think he’d be a great story, so I’ve decided to shadow him this morning. We are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where the sun is shining strong today. It’s a busy place: fishermen pulling their boats into or out of the water, hauling in their nets—some full of fish, others with none. Some fishermen are gutting fish. Others down at the far end of the shore have started a fire and are smoking their catch. Kids weave in and out of the busy-ness and are scolded by the men for getting in the way. The gentle breeze coming off the water is especially welcome, because it helps lessen the overwhelming smell of fish.

Jesus leaves the sand where we were walking and wades up to Simon (Peter) and Andrew. These guys are brothers. They have just cast their nets. Jesus says, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately gather their nets, drop them on the shore, and follow him. I’m struck by their lack of hesitation. How is it that they just drop what they are doing and follow him? Do they already know him? Do they plan to go with him for the morning or for a longer period of time? What do they think “fishers of men” means? I rapidly jot these questions in my little notepad.

Now there are three walking along the shore: Jesus, Peter, and Andrew. They are chatting and joking like they’ve always known each other.

A little farther up the shore, they come across another set of brothers, James and John. They are sitting in their boat with their dad, Zebedee, mending their nets.

Jesus calls to them, and immediately they leave their boat and their dad. Again, the immediacy of their response is stunning. And Zebedee looks overjoyed that Jesus has called his sons. What does he know? Has he already met Jesus? How can he not be upset that his sons are leaving him? I know he needs their help; he’s getting older. I’ve got so many questions.

We walk a little farther, round a bend in the shoreline. Now there are five: the two sets of brothers and Jesus. They’re chatting and slapping each other on the back and having a grand time. It’s a warm bunch, and they all seem like old friends. At one point, they start laughing so hard that I start laughing too. Their laughter is completely contagious.

I’m lagging behind a little as I rapidly jot down my questions. Suddenly, Jesus stops, turns around, and looks me square in the eye. “How about you? Are you ready?”

I suppose I’ve had a little primer on how this is supposed to go, because I’ve watched the way it went with the two sets of brothers. But I’m still shocked. So many thoughts swirl through my head! Primary among them is the thought that I’m not a fisherman. I’m just along as a journalist gathering facts for a story. But I really like this bunch. And there’s something about this Jesus and his eyes. I don’t know what exactly it is, but it’s irresistible. I’m thinking I might hang around for a while.

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Rebecca Ruiz
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has been trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through Fairfield University. Rebecca is on staff at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and previously served for a decade and a half at the Diocese of Arlington in refugee resettlement. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. Your reflections always hook me in. I become a part of your imaginations. Yes, I think Jesus knew these men. And to your point of calling you…I imagine Jesus calls us as he called the guys. He knows when we can come. I too find Jesus irresistible.

    • Hi Patricia,
      Thank you. Glad to have you along!
      What an interesting thought you bring up – that he calls us when “He knows when we can come.” I love pondering this…
      Peace,
      Rebecca

    • Hi Richard,
      So glad you found it helpful. Thank you St. Ignatius for teaching us how to open the Gospel passages in this way!
      Peace,
      Rebecca

  2. This spoke to me very definitely. Have been growing in Ignatian spirituality for almost 70 years
    from school days to now 88, involved in groups and mission, I am now not very mobile and use a walker! Feeling terribly useless, have been asking the Lord what ‘more’ I can be/do? I am a freelance writer and today while reading your reflection the answer came. The Magis style of life is very attractive because it is ‘the language of love’! Anyway next time I will share more on this.
    daphne stockman

    • Hi Daphne,
      “The language of love.” Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!
      And remember, never underestimate the power of prayer – intercessory prayer is extremely powerful and you don’t need to go anywhere to do it!
      Peace,
      Rebecca

  3. Wonderful elaborations. All so brand new to me. You have opened a warm and heart touching window for me.
    Please continue. John

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for your note. I’m so glad it touched you. Ignatius was really onto something with this method of prayer! It really brings Gospel passages to life in a way that speaks to each of us personally .
      Peace,
      Rebecca

  4. Thank you, Rebecca. What a great example of imaginative prayer…putting yourself personally into the storyline, becoming a witness to the scene. That isn’t something I’m very practiced at, so I found this very helpful.

  5. Cute story. It made me think of ‘if Jesus were here today’ what would the reaction be. Would he be hounded by the press, caught up in cancel culture, or would he be able to quietly do His Father’s work. I always enjoy these posts that make me think of something new. Thanks.

    • Hi CS,
      It’s a great question – how would it be if Jesus were here now? And if he were, where would we be? How would we react?
      Peace,
      Rebecca

    • Hi Mary,
      Thanks and thanks for your note! Ignatian Contemplation really opens up the Gospel – in a completely personal way each time.
      Peace,
      Rebecca

  6. Loved this, I was right there beside you, walking along. Well done. How about ME? wow, struck right to the core? yeah, what about me? Made me think. Thanks, Lindianna

    • Hi Linda,
      So glad it spoke to you! Yes, what about YOU?
      We have Ignatius to thank for this wonderful immersion experience!
      Peace,
      Rebecca

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