The Gospel reading in the three-year series for the Third Sunday after Epiphany comes from Mark 1. It describes Jesus calling some of His disciples. In calling these men to be His disciples, He is also giving them a new vocation.
I find the wording Jesus uses here to be very interesting. “I will make you become fishers of men.” The implication here is that Jesus is not simply shuffling them around in the department, taking the account manager and sending him over to HR or something to that effect. Jesus is doing something transformative. Taking one thing and turning it into something it could not be on its own.
This “becoming” is then directly tied to the life of discipleship, which, as Jesus says here, necessitates following Him. Wherever Jesus goes, there go also His disciples. Like children with their parents, disciples learn by emulating and they must be with Jesus to do so.
Jesus doesn’t explicitly mention the sacraments here. In Matthew 28, however, Jesus tells us discipleship consists of two things: teaching and baptism. These newly called men will be learning from Jesus over the next three years. Their baptisms will come later, but they will come.
All of this is part of what it means to be a disciple. All of this also means the teaching and baptism that are part of the disciple’s life are transformative. They take the person who is and turn him into something he could not be otherwise. This gives a very different picture of baptism, for it tells us the sacrament is much, much, more than an act of forgiveness. The Lord is in the process of making you into something new and giving you all of the tools you’ll need to do the job He’s given you. Baptism is a piece of that. The Spirit of God and the life of Christ dwelling within you are essential parts of being a disciple and so they are essential parts of being a fisher of men.
All of the hesitance and uncertainty many Christian profess when it comes to sharing the Gospel are countered by God’s work through the sacrament. God takes you from whoever you were prior to baptism and transforms you into a fisher of men. Baptism becomes our source of confidence that you truly are qualified to do the work He has given you. That isn’t to say you can’t learn to do it better. Being a disciple means continuing to follow the Teacher and learn from Him. But, with baptism, there is a foundation to build upon and the assurance of your vocation comes the moment you are brought to the font.