As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers; Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you Fishers of Men”. At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

My beloved brother in Christ Archbishop George, Reverend Clergy, Religious Leaders of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, faithful people of God, in a very profound way our presence tonight in this magnificent sanctuary, on the eve of a great feast day of our common ecclesiastical heritage, is to be reminded of how two simple fishermen, brothers, responded to the call of Christ. The implications of their daring response enabled our two ancient and holy churches to enjoy an unprecedented 1,000 years of shared history and calls us to continue to pray for unity so that the Body of Christ may someday be One again.

Here was Jesus’ call, “Come, follow me, and I will make you Fishers of Men”. To respond to this call with conviction required that the brothers Andrew and Peter take a risk, that they believe, and that they share the joy of the Good News, with others.

Indeed the Lord was discerning in selecting simple fishermen for the task of eventually leading His Church. Theirs was a humbling vocation…they woke up each morning realizing that if they didn’t catch a fish they wouldn’t eat. Thus, their risk in responding to the Lord’s invitation would be a calculated risk…they dropped their nets with the assurance that they would be able to put their skills of patience, perseverance and baiting to a better use, filling a net and bringing in a shoal of greater worth, souls for the Kingdom of God. Their net, as understood by the Holy Fathers IS the Church, their bait, the Good News of Christ’s Gospel. Thus, their new call, to become fishers of men, was a call to save souls. With zeal in their hearts to achieve this simple and common purpose these two brothers would truly become Christ’s great fishers of men, establishing, cultivating and prospering the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the East and in the West. To them, the leaders of a flock in but not of the world, the Church knew no geographic boundaries. To them, brothers in Christ’s blood who truly believed what they preached, theological differences and division were inconceivable. They did not let sibling rivalries stand in the way of their greater purpose, nor pride threaten the unity of the Body of the Lord, whom they so loved and devoted their every breath of life!

History and humanity’s response to the spiritual warfare which punctuates the course of human events has a subtle way of skewing the intent and zeal of our forebears and distracting us from the greater common purpose which, at its root is really quite simple. Only genuine humility, authentic repentance and sincere communication can redirect one on the journey to the Kingdom. It is my earnest belief that such is, can and should be the core foundational vision and mission of the ecumenical movement!

With this common mindset and spirit, Archbishop George and I have sought to cultivate the relationships of our two churches in San Francisco, and like our Mother Churches, come together for prayer on sacred occasions such as this.

The harmony of our two choirs singing together so beautifully is a reminder of God’s intended purpose for His creation, that of natural unity. The presence of the young people of our two churches lighting candles together is a profound metaphor that it is God’s children who will by their innocence and dependence ultimately bring illumination to our hearts and souls and remind us of our chief role as stewards and not possessors of the Church.

Tonight’s worship fellowship has as its theme PEACE. In a world at war… a world that has seen and rejects the horror of war…a world that not only desires, but also craves peace…may we, the community of faithful, lead the way to peace by showing the more perfect Way! Let us lead by example, unified by Christ’s promise; and like those two brothers, the Apostles Andrew and Peter, those simple fishermen who continue to bring us together, let us respond to the Lord’s call undistracted and with the firm conviction of that higher purpose which enabled US to drop our earthly nets and follow Him!

So be it.

Remarks of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco
On the Eve of the Feast Day of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul at Saint Dominic’s Church, San Francisco, CA