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Making Fishers of Men

by Jeremy Hiers, OSA

When I was just beginning to discern a call to religious life, I came upon a song on the radio that would significantly impact my understanding of the call I was experiencing. The song was I Want to Make the World Turn Around by the Steve Miller Band. Some of the lyrics that stuck out to me include:

I don’t want to live in a world of darkness / I want to live in a world of light / I don’t want to live in a world that’s heartless / I want to live in a world of sight / Well you know, I want to make the world turn around [1]

After a few other lines we find these words:

Turn the darkness into light / Turn the hunger into life / Turn the wrong into right / Put an end to the strife / Turn the blindness into sight / Save a human life / Make the world turn around [1]

Isn’t the desire for a better world something we can all unite around? Don’t we all hunger for an end to the strife? Don’t we all hunger for some light with all the dark news we are hearing these days?

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Skip a few more lines and the song closes with a sense of mission that I truly resonated with:

I want to send a message / To every boy and girl / I want to send a message / About the world / We got to build it up / Stop tearing it down / We got to build it up / Make the world turn around [1]

Almost 10 years later, as I reflect on what really drew me to the idea of religious life, I have come to discover that at the time of my initial discernment, I was very much like the artist who wrote the lyrics to this song.  I saw so much potential for the world to become a better place and I truly wanted to share my gifts in a way that would allow me to do my part to help make it a better place.  

Why couldn’t I do that where I was already at?

As I got to know the Augustinians and their commitment to creating a more just and peaceful world following the example of Saint Augustine, I came to discern that the Augustinian way of life would offer me a path to help make the world a better place by helping others. The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience combined with the support of our community charism would enable me to be truly free to maximize my gifts for the good of others.

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As we enter Ordinary Time, we follow the Savior out of the Manger and into the world. We are invited to reflect on our role as disciples as the Savior models for us through word and deed how to help the “world turn around” by the way He teaches, heals, and leads. As He does so, I think it is truly remarkable to reflect on how often Jesus, as He did with me, used work scenarios to help people discover Him and their own unique calling to follow Him in building a more just and peaceful world.

I find it fascinating to reflect on how God used a “secular” song in the midst of driving to my “secular” every-day job to take my discernment to a new level.  After all, I’ve never heard this song on Christian radio stations or at Mass.  Yet, this is not consistent with how God worked in scripture either:

Jesus meets fishermen (Peter, John, Andrew, and James) and invites them to become “fishers of men” in the way they cast their nets to feed their families (Mark 1:14-20).

The Centurion comes to understand the power of God to heal through a deeper reflection of his own power as a soldier (Matthew 8:5-13).

The Samaritan woman, in the midst of fulfilling her routine day-to-day domestic duties, encounters Jesus and becomes empowered to go and tell others about Him (John 4:1-42).

Merchants are challenged to use their trained eye for spotting valuable pearls to discover the presence of the Kingdom of God in the here and now (Matthew 13:45-46).

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I came to discover God wanted me to use the skills I learned as a professional to care in a more full-time way for the members of the faithful. The Augustinian way of life has empowered me to be free to do just this.

Not everyone is called to religious life.  Not everyone who is called to religious life is called to be an Augustinian.

However, God does call all his disciples in one way or another to use their skills and insights to become a “fisher of people” and bearers of good news in a world that really needs to “turn around” from where we are headed.

“Lord, you frighten me! You demand from me what you gave me. You gave me my talents because you want to profit from them. You don’t want them hidden away in some secret place. You don’t want to get back only what you gave me. You want more. You want back all your money, every coin that bears your image-.e.g., every human soul that ever existed.”

Saint Augustine (Sermon 125, 8).

As with the fishermen, the Centurion, the Samaritan woman, and the merchant, Jesus Christ will meet us throughout Ordinary Time right where we are at and invite us to take another step forward in generously sharing our gifts. Such a step begins with reflection, as this song invited me to do on my drive to work that day.

“Let us leave a little room for reflection in our lives, room too for silence. Let us look within ourselves and see whether there is some delightful hidden place inside where we can be free of noise and argument. Let us hear the Word of God in stillness and perhaps we will then come to understand it.”

Saint Augustine (Sermon 52, 22).

As we reflect together over the next several weeks on the many ways Jesus modeled throughout His earthly ministry how to create a better world, He will invite us to examine our own state of life and consider how we too can contribute to building the Kingdom of God right where we are at.


[1] https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/stevemillerband/iwanttomaketheworldturnaround.html

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