My brother, Patrick Looby, his wife, Shannon, and their family are fishers of men!
This weekend's gospel from Mark tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew and the brothers James and John the sons of Zebedee.
Notice that Jesus doesn't choose religious leaders with theological degrees who already had experience leading synagogues or faith communities to help him begin his religious movement.
Instead, he chose fishermen! He chose FISHERMEN to be his first disciples!
Which makes me wonder…why? Out of all the people in the world who would be qualified in following Jesus and helping him build his kingdom WHY would he choose fishermen?
Mark does not give a reason, so, I can only speculate that there are qualities and virtues that great (and not so great fishermen) must have that Jesus needed to help him get his ministry off the ground.
1. Patience: Fishermen understand that success doesn’t come instantly. They wait patiently for the fish to bite. In our spiritual journey, patience is vital in waiting for God’s timing and His plans to unfold.
2. Observation: Fishermen are highly observant of their environment. This quality is crucial in discipleship, as we need to be aware of the needs around us and the ways God is working in our lives.
3. Determination: The life of a fisherman is marked by perseverance. This mirrors our call to steadfast faith, remaining committed even when challenges arise.
4. Respect for Creation: Fishermen have a deep respect for nature. As disciples, we're called to care for God's creation, recognizing it as a gift entrusted to our stewardship.
5. Adventurousness: A fisherman must be willing to explore new waters. Similarly, discipleship involves stepping out in faith, embracing new challenges and opportunities for growth.
6. Education and Skill: Just as a fisherman learns and hones his skills, disciples are called to continually grow in our understanding of faith and Scripture.
Interestingly, when Jesus called these fishermen, they immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. This decisive action symbolizes a readiness to leave behind the old life and embrace a new journey with Christ.
My brother Pat and his wife Shannon are great examples of answering Jesus' call with a willingness to use their unique gifts and talents in His service.
They met as young counselors at our Catholic Summer Camp, Camp Guggenheim. There they cultivated a relationship grounded in faith, which blossomed into a lifelong commitment to service.
After marrying they spent years in youth and music ministry in parishes around the country while raising their children. Then, they transitioned into Catholic education when they co-founded a Catholic high school in Arlington, Virginia.
Last year, they felt that God was calling them and their family of 6 into a new direction. Pat, Shannon, and 4 of their six children are now missionaries working in an orphanage in Honduras!
Now, leaving your country with all of its freedoms and creature comforts to become missionaries may sound exciting to most of us, and it certainly has been, but it also hasn't been without it's challenges.
Recently, Shannon informed us that their daughter, Vivian, contracted dengue fever. She has since recovered and is doing well, but, the family has to return to the United States to get a vaccine to protect her from getting sick again.
In facing these challenges, Pat and Shannon exhibited the virtues of patience, observance, and determination. These challenges did not deter them; instead, they adapted and overcame, embodying the spirit of true discipleship.
Their willingness to step into the unknown, leaving behind the comfort of a settled life for missionary work in Honduras with their family, reflects the adventurous spirit and commitment to faith and service that Jesus saw in his first disciples.
In their story, we see a modern reflection of the fishermen disciples – ordinary people called to extraordinary lives of service, ready to drop their nets and follow Christ. As we consider their journey, let us ask ourselves how we are using our own gifts and talents in response to Jesus’ call to be fishers of men.
We may not all be fishermen, but Jesus calls each of us to be fishers of men. He sees in us gifts and virtues that can be used to lead others to Him.
The question for us is: Are we listening to His call? Are we ready to drop our nets, whatever they might be, and use our gifts and talents to be fishers of men in our own unique ways?
Let us pray for the courage and wisdom to hear Jesus’ call in our lives and respond with the same immediacy and willingness as the first disciples. May we use our God-given talents and virtues to further His kingdom on earth.