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Fishers of men. Nice short-film about priesthood. Inspiring. Everyone should give it a look. It’s definitely worth replacing 15 minutes of TV or video games or cat videos.
One problem with the great video is that we might think only the priesthood is meant to be like this. That Jesus only calls priests to be “fishers of men.” But rather, this is meant for all of us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II called a sure norm for teaching the faith, takes two quotes from the second Vatican Council when it speaks about the role of the laity in the work of evangelization:
CCC 905 - Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, "that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life." For lay people, "this evangelization . . . acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world." LG 35
This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful. AA 6 (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. approved by vote of 2,340 to 2)
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but I have to say that not all non-Christians or non-Catholics are the same. They are at different degrees of connection with God or the Church. And for all of them, they are going to travel through a process of drawing closer to Jesus. And the truth of the matter is, many of us in the Church today might find ourselves at different stages of this journey to full discipleship with Christ. But if we are going to be of help to others on their journey, we as fishers of men need to know what stage the other person is at.
The five stages of discipleship are from a book by Sherry Weddell called FORMING INTENTIONAL DISCIPLES, and she actually got them from a campus minister who did a study of college students on their process of conversion throughout a school year and realized that Every person must go through a series of questions one by one. Conversion isn’t magic and doesn’t happen in an instant. So here they are. One more thing before I get started: think of a few people you see every week who aren’t active disciples and try to figure out where they fall on this list. That is how you will know how to help them make it to the next step.
1. Initial trust: Can I trust God and His Church? (They need a connection of trust)
2. Spiritual Curiosity: Is this worth looking into? (They are intrigued by Christian way of life)
3. Spiritual Openness: Am I willing to be changed? (not committing to change; just open to it; not closed off)
4. Spiritual Seeking: Is this the life for me? (dating with a purpose; pursuing God / Church)
5. Intentional Discipleship: Am I all in? Will I give myself to this? This is it. I’m doing it. I’m giving my life. I’m all in. The decision may take some time to ripple through one’s life and lifestyle but The personal relationship with Jesus has now begun in earnest.
This last step is what we tend to focus on. This is what we tell stories about, but we can’t forget the entirety of the process that led up to it. It is indeed the fruit of a series of ever-deeper choices and commitments: trust, curiosity, openness, seeking/pursuing, following/discipleship.
We have to really try hard to imagine where the non-believer or non-Catholic is coming from. These questions may seem simple to us, trusting God or the Church for example, but to the person you run into randomly at a store who was not raised in a Catholic family or go to a Catholic school, it can be a real test and cause of concern to trust.
The work of sharing Christ with others is really something that is done best through love and not through facts. Sometimes people need facts. Sometimes they need examples. Every time and at all times they need to be loved. That is one thing that we can always be confident of. One man’s testimony in the book shows this perfectly: “I am not a Christian because it ‘makes sense’ or because someone sat down and diagrammed it for me. I am a Christian because I have been loved deeply and unconditionally by Christians. Some of them … troubled me with hard questions. But all of them loved me when I did not love them… Reason is a wonderful tool, but it is a weak force for deep change in human beings. Faith, hope, and love are not tools; they are virtues, powerful and exceedingly difficult to embody, and much more efficacious than reason for changing lives.”
Jesus wants you to follow Him. To give him everything. If you have never really dropped your nets and let him transform your life, do so. But then, Jesus wants more. He wants you to help others to know him, to be fishers of men. This is what you are meant to be by baptism. Become what you are. Take the next step.