“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.” – Matthew 4:18-20
I wonder Simon and Andrew were planning on doing the rest of the day when Jesus called them. I’m sure they had their whole day planned out, but someone came and changed their plans. I can relate to that. Like Simon and Andrew, I had my own ideas about what I wanted to do with my life. That all changed, however, the day Christ called me to do otherwise.
It was the summer before my eighth grade year, and I found myself attending Catholic Youth Summer Camp in northern Ohio. I remember it well: days full of fun activities, nights filled with incredible prayer. I had never experienced anything like it. Prior to camp, prayer had always been a bit on the boring side. At Catholic Youth Summer Camp, prayer was actually exciting.
One day at camp, a seminarian came and gave us a talk. He explained that a seminarian was a man studying to become a priest. The reason he was a seminarian was because he felt God calling him to do it.
“I would go to Eucharistic adoration, and every time I was there, I could just feel God pulling me towards the priesthood,” he said. At first he would resist this pull: “God said, ‘I want you to be a priest,’ but I would reply, ‘No thanks, God, I want to be an engineer.’”
In the end, he gave in to the pull and became a seminarian.
For some reason, his talk really stood out to me. I couldn’t keep it off my mind. Later that week we had Eucharistic adoration. I remember kneeling there in front of the Eucharist, felling really close to God. It was as if he were a real person, closer to me than anyone else I knew.
And then I felt it. I was being called to the priesthood. It was at once the most exciting and the most frightening feeling I’d ever had before. On the one hand, all the plans I had for myself just went down the drain. On the other hand, I knew I would always find fulfillment if I chose to follow God’s plan.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but I actually said “yes” to following that part of God’s plan for me. He told me to follow him, and I decided I had nothing to loose. I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be left asking “What if?” for the rest of my life.
Jesus doesn’t call everyone the same way, but he does call everyone. He asks us to give him everything we have so he can make something even better out of it. I don’t know what Simon had in mind for his fishing career, but I bet he didn’t think he’d end up fishing for men as the first pope. God has a way of taking all our human failures and making them into something divine.“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”