Drawn Toward Greater Life

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  – Mt 4:19

The call of Andrew and the first disciples is at once inspiring and daunting to me. How can they follow someone they hardly knew, in such a decisive and definitive way? Like them, I have been captivated and have followed. But my fears, sins, and unfreedom have often kept me back. The more I follow Christ, the more I am challenged to be countercultural, the more glaring I find my failures and unfaithfulness. There is a spirit within me that resists.

Yet, there is something greater at work: the life giving power of Jesus’ invitation.

We are drawn toward greater life. My older brother and I were attracted to our first Silent Retreat when we saw how life giving it was to our aunt and cousin. They were already faith-filled women, but they returned from the retreat different, as people who have fallen in love with Christ. My brother and I wanted what they had. We were drawn to a greater life emerging in them. Like Andrew and the disciples in John’s Gospel, they experienced a personal encounter with Jesus. He is the draw to greater life, the spirit that overcomes attachment to old ways of thinking and acting.

The word “fishers” in today’s Gospel can also be translated as “catchers”. Unlike fishing, which kills the fish, Jesus’ invitation to “catch people” gives life. It involves being drawn greater into the life of God and drawing others to life. Like Andrew, we are drawn to invite others to be “caught” up into greater life, life with God.

Pope Francis says it well: “The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: ‘Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others’” (Evangelli Gaudium, 10).

Let us be drawn to greater life with these questions: Do I want to cope or truly grow? Do I want to survive or truly thrive? What does it concretely means this Advent?