The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, which is today, is known as the Sunday of the Word of God and although Catholics are not popularly known for personal Bible reading, we may not realize it, but we hear in the Sunday Mass three-year cycle of readings, plus the two-year cycle of daily Mass readings:
13.5 percent of the Old Testament (not counting the Responsorial Psalms);
89.8 percent of the Gospels, and
71.5 percent of the entire New Testament. (source: Catholic.com)
The more we hear and read the Bible, the easier and more naturally it is to allow Jesus make us fishers of men, as Matthew 4:19 says today in our Gospel.
Fish don’t have eyelids, so they can’t close their eyes. They are always watching to see if our faith is truly genuine and worthy of their attention.
However, people’s desire and hunger for God and personal change can outstrip their personal relationship with Jesus.
So, the first thing to say when fishing for people is the Kerygma— Kerygma rhythms with Charisma.
Kerygma means proclamation or announcement that Jesus suffered and died for you on the Cross and you can have forgiveness of your sins if you ask Him to come into your life as your personal Savior. You can certainly add some Scripture and explain it, like Ephesians 2:8, which the Church uses to explain salvation in the catechism, number 1996, “For by grace alone, you have been saved, in faith by Christ’s saving work, and not because of any merit on your part, we are accepted by and receive the Holy Spirit.” We still have to accept that gift by our free-will choices and persevere in possessing it, i.e., abiding in right relationship with Jesus (John 6:55-56; 15:1-11).
Notice that the goal is to lead a person to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Later will come baptism, after catechesis in the R.C.I.A program, etc. Expert lay Catholics, like Sherry Weddell, who lead bishops and priests in evangelization workshops note that “it is often disconcerting for Catholics to realize that the basic kerygma that awakens Christian faith and leads to the Church is not primarily about the Church herself. I have run into numerous Catholics who fear that if we talk about Jesus, Catholics will be lured from the Church by the intoxicating discovery that a relationship with God can be personal as well as communal.
Sherry Weddell notes that if we don’t evangelize our own, someone else will- like evangelicals, Mormons, independent bible Christians. Your job is to preach the kerygma to those under your charge because if you don’t, you and yours will hear it in a modified form outside the Church and may come to the mistaken notion that a personal relationship with Jesus isn’t to be found in the Catholic Church.
Pope St. John Paul II and other popes wrote about the Keryma coming before catechesis or the catechism (cf. Catechesi Tradendae), and the keryma is officially part of the Pre-Catechumenate in R.C.I.A. (cf. General Directory for Catechesis 88). There is not a wall between evangelization by the Kergma and catechesis and the two can interact, but clearly the kerygma must come first.
Scripture continues to provide a way of seeing and evaluating the problems of life because, in this sapiential or wisdom-confrontation, people can experience God, and share in their own words how it benefits them to others, as fishers of people.