Fishers of men


A sign pointing toward happily ever after - photo from Unsplash

Some years ago, I knew a young woman, a teacher, whose dearest wish in life was to be married and to have a large family. However, her first problem was that she couldn’t find a “good man”. Apparently there is a widespread shortage of “good” men. There are lots of men around, but apparently not many “good” men. But, eventually, when she was 32, she found a possible candidate. After only two years of courtship, agonised decision–making and huge telephone bills, they were married and settled down to live happily ever after.

But, after three years of marriage, she discovered that she could not have a child. It was a shattering blow for her. She had a long series of medical tests which were painful, unpleasant and expensive and which confirmed that she would never be able to have a child.

She was shattered. She thought long and hard about killing herself. But she decided that if God had given her Life, He must have done so for a Reason. Desperately, she wanted to know what that Reason was and how she could fulfil it.

She was so depressed that she had to stop work and go back to her home in her home country for a long holiday. There she was appalled and shocked by the number of homeless children in the streets, either abandoned by their parents or orphaned, often because their parents had died of AIDS.

She came back to Britain and her good paying job, yet remained distraught that she, with all her love to give, had not been given a child, while so many children of her own people in her own home town, had no-one to care for them. She was so angry with God that she lost her Faith, or so she thought.

It was not until a full year later that the penny dropped. And she and her husband returned permanently to her home country to found an orphanage. I heard from her recently. She wrote: “I thank my God that he did not give me only one child; he gave me a whole orphanage.”

Let us pray to the Lord that we too may become fishers of men, women and children.

Paul O'Reilly SJ