Good Fishing is an Art - Family Reflection Video
I grew up near Lake Victoria - Africa’s biggest freshwater lake. It is in the same area where the Nile River starts its three-month long journey to Egypt. While I grew up near these two important waterbodies, I never really learned how to fish well. This is because good fishing is an art. It requires a specific personality and particular qualities for it to be fruitful.
In our gospel, we hear Jesus calling his very first set of disciples, among whom was Andrew, whose feast day we celebrate today. He was deliberate in choosing fishermen for the job he had in mind because good fishermen possess qualities that are quite relevant in the work of evangelization. Reflecting on these qualities will tell you why I was never good at fishing. Of course, I have grown a little bit, but I still have a long way to go to improve my fishing skills.
The first quality of fishermen is patience. Fishermen can wait and wait for hours for the fish to take the bait. They know how to stay still without moving until the fish takes the bait. So it is with the work of evangelization. You have to learn to be patient with people. Any desire to see quick results, such as immediate conversations, only drives the people away and can lead to frustration. We have to learn to be patient, learn to stay still, and simply wait on the Lord to move people’s hearts.
Good fishermen also possess perseverance. They are not easily discouraged. Just because this week they didn’t catch any fish, it does not mean that tomorrow or next week they won’t be out in the lake fishing. So it should be with fishers of people. They should never be discouraged because nothing happened yesterday, nothing happened last week, nothing happened last year. Good fishers of people need to cultivate a willingness to try and try again until something happens.
Good fishermen also have an eye for the right moment. They know how to read the weather and determine whether to go fishing or postpone it to another day. Good fishers of people, too, need to know how to carefully choose their moment. They know when people are amenable to listening to the word of God, and they know moments when sharing the word of God will be resented and won’t be fruitful. Artful fishing is informed by good timing, otherwise it does not bear fruit. Know when to speak and when to keep quiet.
Lastly, good fishermen know how to fit the bait to the fish. One type of fish is attracted to one type of bait; and another fish is attracted to a different type of bait. A Nile perch may not respond to the same bait as a tilapia. A bass may not respond to the same bait as a walleye. You have to align the bait with the type of fish. So it is with people. Your approach and messaging must be somehow influenced by the people whom you are trying to reach.
Today in our Holy Mass, we thank God for the gift of the fisherman and apostle Saint Andrew. Like Andrew and the other apostles who were called, may the Lord give us the grace to promptly drop everything we are doing so as to respond to His call in whatever form it presents itself. May we also ask for wisdom and a discerning spirit to guide us as we go about doing the different missions He has entrusted to us in our families, in our communities, in our Church, and in the wider world.
- Father Fred's inspirational homily was recorded live this morning during Mass at the Father Peyton Center. Please view the video on our Facebook page. (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
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About Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.
Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Father Fred, a native of Uganda, has multiple degrees including theology, philosophy, and communications. His native language is Lusoga and he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili, and Rutooro. He has been a teacher, researcher, author and family minister. Father Fred is committed to helping build God’s masterpiece one family at a time.