Homily for the Memorial of St. Gregory the Great | Please click here for the readings.
In the Gospel, we just heard this command from Jesus to put out into the deep and to become fishers of men. I think that it is appropriate that we read this Gospel today on the Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great. One of the things that Gregory is known for is for his outreach to the Anglo-Saxons. Gregory was elected Pope at the age of 50 in 590 and immediately one of his concerns was the conversion of the English people. Before being elected to the papacy, Gregory was a Benedictine monk, a fairly new religious order at the time. He sent monks from his former monastery to evangelize the people of England. And so it’s appropriate that we have this Gospel for today on the Memorial of Gregory the Great, a pope who was very much aware of his role as a fisher of men and who sought to bring other people to an encounter with the Lord.
This also touches on one of the things that I have been praying about and reflecting on over the last couple of months now as we have started to get back to somewhat of a new normal after the shutting down of churches for COVID. But one of the things that really concerns me is the lack of people we have coming back to Mass. The question that I and many others within the Church are asking is: are our people going to come back? I know I have had this discussion with several of you here and with those around the diocese. I don’t believe that we are going to see a lot of people return.
Today’s Gospel gives us an invitation and a challenge. For those of us who have returned to a regular involvement in the life of the parish, Jesus is asking us the question today: what are we doing to be fishers of men? What are we doing to be fishers of men, women, children, young adults, teens? Are we inviting them to come back to Mass? Are we saying, “we miss you and we want you to be part of this community again”? To the people who don’t know Jesus at all, are we going out and sharing our faith with those that we encounter? I know not many of us here this morning are necessarily on social media, but a lot of grandparents have Facebook – are you using that as an opportunity to spread the Gospel?
Do we use every opportunity to evangelize even something as small as praying over a meal at a restaurant? What are we doing to convert those around to bring them to an encounter with the Lord, to tell them about this person named Jesus? Maybe the challenge for us today is to ask ourselves the question: have we embraced that mission that Gregory embraced – to go out and make disciples of all nations? If we haven’t embraced that mission, we should. The Lord is telling us today: put out into the deep. He is saying to us, “Today, I call on you to be fishers of men.”