Fishing for Men

Posted: 4/11/2016

Glenmary Father Francois Pellissier

What Are We Going to Do With Michel? (Qu'est-ce Qu'on va Faire Avec Michel?) is an autobiography by French television host Michel Drucker that was adapted for the screen. In a scene from the movie, we see young Michel and his father sitting and fishing by a country pond. "Why do you come here to fish and never catch anything?" asks Michel. His father replies, "Because it makes me relax. Look how beautiful it is here: the light, the trees, the colors and the sky. I fish with my eyes."

When we sing Pescador de Hombres at Mass, some people imagine that Jesus is using a net from a boat and that lots of fish will be caught before they are sorted out on the shore of the lake. I like to imagine Jesus using a fishing pole like Michel's father in the movie. The number of fish Jesus will catch isn't as important to me as the fact that he has something attractive on the hook. I like to imagine the fish taking a look at the bait and making up their minds whether to bite or not.

For me, Jesus with a fishing pole rather than a net is a more personal invitation—just like a vocation is rooted in a personal call and an answer to Jesus for a specific mission. The bait might change as the fisherman knows the correct one to use in order to catch each fish. Unlike Michel's father in the movie, Jesus is not just relaxing; he will indeed catch something with his fishing pole.

As a Glenmary missioner currently doing outreach ministry in South Georgia, I come in contact with hundreds of Latino youth who were not born in the United States but made a decision to come to this country. My ministry is to serve full-time in outreach to the incarcerated, visiting three South Georgia ministry sites—Pulaski State Prison, Rutledge State Prison and Stewart Detention Center. Most of the young men are being processed for deportation and are unsure how long it will take. Only a few fortunate ones might be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, the Lord is present even in the detention centers. And for some of the young men, the invitation to "come and follow me" may be a refrain they had heard before but to which they had failed to respond at the time. They have confided in me that this time, after they get out of the facility, they will respond to the Lord's call! The detention center may not be the pretty pond where Michel went fishing with his father, but the God of mercy is present in their eyes and I rejoice that I too can fish with my own eyes and lift up their spirits. I am confident that after their ordeal in the detention center is over, they will find the places where they are called to serve.

Likewise, if you are considering a vocation, know that you are not alone, and say a prayer for the ones Jesus has already called. The fishing pole is being lowered toward the pond for you, too. Take a look at the bait: it is there just for you. Jesus knows you well and is calling you personally.