I Will Make You Fishers of Men
November 27, 2021
The last few days have reminded us that we don’t just walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We also walk in the footsteps of his Apostles. Yesterday, we visited Caesarea-Philippi—the site of Peter’s profession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This morning, we had Mass at the Church of the Primacy of Peter. At this spot, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. Here he famously restored Peter, asking him three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”, one for each instance Peter denied Jesus.
The Sea of Galilee then, is a special place. Here the disciples worked as fishermen, and it was here that they first met the Lord. Here Jesus called them from their former way of life as fishermen with the famous lines “cast into the deep,” and “do not be afraid”—words every seminarian sees as he enters our St. John Paul II Chapel at Mundelein.
Peter’s experience here on the Sea of Galilee prepared him for his mission. Here he was first called, here he was taught by the Lord, and here he ministered alongside him. This experience of getting to know Jesus sets the stage for Peter’s profession that Jesus is Lord. We know that as a result, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, setting him as head over his Church. In short, we can’t have the events of Caesarea-Philippi unless we first have the events of Galilee.
How fitting then, that after Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus once again meets him here on the Sea of Galilee. He doesn’t scold Peter. Rather, he offers him his love and his mercy. Jesus invites Peter into an even deeper relationship with himself, and once again reminds him of his mission.
What does this mean for us? We each have our own “Galilee” moments – those moments we heard Jesus’ voice and decided to follow him. We each have those places that helped us to encounter him in a deeper way. Those moments of closeness to the Lord help us to live out our faith, wherever and however we’re called to do so. How important then, that we remember those places and those moments. They will strengthen us to live out our mission as disciples in a world that does not know Jesus.
As all of us pilgrims have the opportunity to spend a week here on the Sea of Galilee, we remember the many ways Jesus has called us, had mercy on us, and sent us to bring his Gospel to those whom we serve. While tomorrow we will have to leave this place, we pray that our experience here on the Sea of Galilee, and those “Galilee moments” of our lives will help us to proclaim, as St. Peter did, that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of the living God.
Deacon Brian Geary
Diocese of Joliet, Illinois