Third Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B

Posted on enero 19, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

How to catch a fish. 

Cast, get a bite, and try to hook it; loose it; say something emotional, sit and cry. And repeat.

There are basically four reasons why people do not catch fish. 1

The wrong bait is using bait you like but fish don’t. E.g., you could invite an inactive Catholic friend to Mass, but your friend really likes music, and the parish school concert, where there will be songs of faith, would be a better start. For young adults it could be watersports, a trip to the mountains, activities that young people like, where a short testimony of sharing what Jesus has done for us can be shared. Gospel means literally “good news” in Greek. God wants us to share Jesus Christ. That is the bait.

Regarding fishing in the wrong lake—Cursillo says “that the study of the environment is the study of the person. We can evangelize those who surround us where we are (grocery store, work, football game, home, etc.). We can’t always fish in the fishbowl (our parishes), because those fish are already caught! God calls us to cast our nets into the deep oceans of the world.”2

Third, some people have got the right bait and they’re in the right lake, but they don’t know how to fish. 

Who says bad news won’t sell?!  And who says bad people can’t be led to the Lord?

In our First Reading, Nineveh was the bitter enemy of Israel. That is why Jonah gave them a one-sentence homily: «Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.» Forty days to get it right—that was mercy. If they didn’t get it right they would be overthrown—that was judgment.3 

Bad news is just facing the facts of humanity’s difficult situation where God means very little. We are in a deplorable mess. Pope Francis calls the church a field-hospital. The Ninevites practiced frequent violence and they needed to stop it as nation and culture much like the gun violence we experience in the U.S. They also took as hostages’ mothers and children and kept them separate!

Jonah’s preaching of destruction produced a massive repentance.  

The Ninevites put on sackcloth. Coarsely woven from inferior material, usually goat’s hair, and crudely dyed. 

It worked, God changed his mind and did not carry the destruction he had threatened.

(4) Lastly, some know how but won’t fish despite what our Second Reading says: “the time is running out.” 

Dr. R. G. Lee was right who said, «The greatest sit-down strike in the world is in our churches, where those who claim to be saved have never become fishers of men.»4

God is sending you out. The bishop told you that at confirmation several times.

Archbishop Celli said that catechized lay Catholics should start blogs, social networks and other digital forums so that they can evangelize, share the insights of the Gospel, present the Church’s teaching and respond to the questions of others.

The evangelist must prepare his heart. No person can introduce others to Jesus Christ unless that person has met Jesus Christ also. Only a person who is converted can convert others. To lead men into the presence of Christ a person must himself come forth from the presence of Christ.5 

1. James Merritt, Are You Going to Fish or Cut Bait?,

2. Cursillo Notes, Diocese of Bridgeport, Winter, 2009

3.  James Merritt, When God Speaks You Better Listen,

4. Ibid.  Are You Going to Fish

5. William Barclay, Fishers of men: the life and work of the evangelist, Encounter, 27 no 1 Wint 1966, p 39-53