St Patrick was born towards the end of the 4th century in Roman Britain; he died in Ireland in the middle of the 5th century. He died having served his Lord as a Missionary and Bishop to the Irish people. The people who had originally enslaved him as a youth were those he was instrumental in converting. He was an evangelist with extraordinary zeal and of incredible hardiness, yet most of all, enormous faith, hope and love – and not least, for the people he proclaimed the love of God to.
In our Gospel today (Luke 5:1-11) our Lord calls the first Apostles by inviting Himself onto Peter’s boat and Peter willingly does as he is asked. Jesus looks for more. He is looking not just for someone to render Him service; Jesus is looking for someone willing to totally to surrender himself to Him. There are many listeners, but Jesus wants Apostles.
The miraculous catch is also a sign pointing to the work of the Apostles: to catch people.
Peter’s beginning might not seem very promising, for he seems overwhelmed by fear. One who discovers that God has entered their inner life may well react with fear. However this fear is good. Peter truly knows who is with him! He is aware of his own sinfulness, and the presence of the holy Lord. On his knees, Peter says, “Lord, leave me, I am a sinful man.” This is the first act of faith in the divinity of Jesus.
Apostle means “sent”. Christ choses apostles and sends them in His name. One begins to cooperate with the call of Christ in apostolic ministry when one begins to do more than listen. In fact one begins to cooperate with the call of Christ in apostolic ministry when one seeks to do more than perform good works for the benefit of the parish. One begins to answer a call to apostolic service when one feels responsible for people, i.e. when one becomes a fisher of men.
The apostolate of the laity is not just listening to Christ. The apostolate of the laity is not just doing good things for the priest or the parish. The principle focus in the apostolate of the laity is people; people who know not the true Christ, and know not the Church through whom they are saved.
Let us pray that we all may answer the call of Christ to our particular apostolate, that we may be fishers of men. St Patrick, pray for us.