Without fanfare the carpenter from Nazareth strides up to Peter and Andrew, probably greets them, and says words that will change everyone’s lives. Most Christians know the famous quote in the following translation: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
The Greek is Deute opisō mou, ka poiēsō humas genesthai ha haleeis anthrōpōn. The first part of Jesus’s invitation might be better translated as “Come after me,” which may have reminded Mark’s original audience of the Jewish practice of the student walking behind the teacher. Many scholars say that already Jesus is making a break with tradition: normally it was the student who sought out the teacher. Here, the master chooses.
The master also makes. The second part of the Greek, “And I will make you to become fishers of people,” shows what Jesus has in mind for these fishermen. The verb poieō (to make or do) is the root of the words poem andpoetry, and this passage beautifully conveys a sense of creation. After calling them into relationship with him, Jesus will “make” or fashion his disciples into something new and beautiful. John Meier in A Marginal Jew calls it a “command-plus-promise.”
Some Christians familiar with the term “fishers of men” are often surprised that the Greek used is a form ofanthrōpos (that is, people: anthrōpoi), and not of anēr (men: which would be andres). Jesus’s ministry would not be limited to men. Jesus’s ministry will not be limited to men. As his ministry unfolds the disciples will see that Jesus’s net is large enough to include a fantastic variety of people, often the very fish that are the least expected by those doing the casting.
Excerpted from “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by James Martin, S.J.
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Reflection by pilgrim Mary King
First thing this morning, Father Jim Martin encouraged us to embrace the spirit of a pilgrim, that is to know that God is operational is everything that happens on this graced ten-day trip. More concretely, he encouraged us to trust the insights we receive, to be mindful of what memories surface, and to speak openly with Jesus throughout the week — asking specifically and unabashedly for what we desire. So my primary desire on this pilgrimage Is to come to know the person of Jesus more intimately. Well, it’s happening!
Today we celebrated mass at Capernaum, in a church erected directly over the home of Saint Peter himself. Surely, this is a place where Jesus would have hung around. In his homily, Father Matt Malone reflected on Mary Magdalene as she ran to tell Peter about her experience seeing the Resurrected Jesus. Matt reminded us that in her 15 to 20 minute run she was carrying the Church with her; because the experience of church is not just knowing and accepting the Resurrected Christ, but sharing what we know with others. Mary was incredibly privileged to have this intimate experience with Jesus, and to be able to share with such a receptive listener—Peter.
I am struck by my own privilege to be a pilgrim in the Holy Land. As I write, a mild storm is blowing across the Sea of Galilee. Iit looks choppier than before. I walked on a bed of Palms this morning then I rinsed my feet in a spring that Jesus would have used. Although our faith tells us that Jesus is always present to us, limited by neither time nor space, he feels remarkably more present to me here, as a pilgrim.