Reflection on the book “Fishers of Men”
by Joy Aguila
Evangelization is at the very core of our mission. This is who we are: We have seen Him and have heard Him in our lives and so we are moved to believe. With the faith He has graced us with, we are able to recognize His call for us. We are then called so that we may be sent, and now we are sent to preach what we have seen. Evangelization is not an option. It is at the very heart of what we are called to do. If we do not put value to evangelization then we are not fully living out God’s call.
For there is nothing in our old past life that can compare with what we can look forward to in a new life in the Lord (Frank Padilla). Out of His incomprehensible love for me, God handpicked me from my dark past to transform me. And he changed me for the purpose of using me and making my life a shining representation of His grace and mercy; for the purpose of making Him known. I am changed that I may live out the purpose of being His missionary. This greatness that I have witnessed with my own eyes is so consuming and that it is not meant to be kept for myself only. This greatness I have to share to everyone else. I am transformed that I may become His instrument of transformation for other people as well. I am called to evangelize. And this calling is a privilege that no one could ever take away from me.
In evangelization, there is a call for a double-action response. How Fishers of Men explained that we ought to pursue holiness and do service at the same time as a part of our response to the call to evangelization reminded me of how I should grow to become holy as we do God’s mission. This struck me because sometimes, when the work gets so overwhelmingly big, I tend to set aside my prayer time. Sometimes I find myself getting caught up with the busyness of the work and I tend to give less importance on what I should really give value to – the internal dimension of evangelization. Whenever mission work gets doubled; all the more we should double up our prayer time. From the book, the Lord continued to remind me how important it is for me to consciously give time and effort in growing in my relationship with Him. I should really keep my prayer time sacred, no matter what happens. It is only through an intimate relationship with the Lord that I can truly evangelize.
Additionally, if we are spiritually connected with God, goodness is what our lives will reflect. The kind of lives we live is already evangelization. If we are able to live our lives in accordance to the plans of the Lord, then we are able to make other people see the Good News of Jesus, even without us speaking. I am reminded of St. Francis of Assissi when he teaches us to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” I am affirmed of the importance of living a life of integrity and holiness so that I may truly become a fisher of men.
This book also reminded and affirmed me all the more of the call to humility, especially in doing the work of evangelization. Evangelization is God’s work, not mine, not ours. Sometimes we seek for praise and honour for being able to bring in a lot of participants in a CLS, for being able to bring our family and friends to community, for being able to do talks during mission, for being able to mount big events to make Jesus known, and for being able to do great things when doing evangelization. We deserve no credit for whatever efforts we give in evangelization. We do not deserve any praise. God alone truly deserves all the recognition for every victory we experience in evangelization work. We are mere instruments of God. Without God, we can do nothing. With our own efforts, we will fail. So whatever inspiration or goodness we are able to bring to other people when doing mission comes from the Lord; and so my heart’s attitude should always be that of humility and total dependence to Him. Evangelization also entails sacrifices. There will be “stretching of our nets and straining of our body” in our mission – times we need to go out of our comfort zone. We are to persist. We give all what we have. We need to grow deeper in our calling to evangelize – caring and forming those whom we introduced God. He wants us to be fruitful in our work of evangelization. But this can only happen through Him. He can accomplish this in and through us if we humbly become in total dependence in Him.
Tito Frank emphasizes in his book that evangelizers are people who are not selfish, but rather are selfless; and are people who are growing in discipleship – loving and serving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Thinking about it, the call to be truly fishers of men is not really easy. It entails a commitment that is much bigger than our very selves. It entails a challenge to live like Jesus, as He Himself is the best example of what it truly means to be a fisher of men. Growing in discipleship and loving and serving God with all of who I am may be easy to declare, but the challenge of really living out every single bit of the essence of these words entails so much courage and faith. But God, through this book, reminded me that He can use us, ordinary as we are, to do the extraordinary call of evangelization for His sake. All we have to do is to respond with a yes and He will certainly give us the grace we need.