Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reflections on Sunday's Readings, 3rd Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C: Calling Fishermen


"Come, Follow Me," says Jesus. Four men who fish for a living receive the invitation: two are casting their nets and two are mending after a night's work.

It's hard work, fishing. In those days, they took small boats out onto the variable and treacherous waters of the Sea of Galilee and threw hand-cast nets time after time through the hours of the night. Hauling in their catch, they would return to short as people would be waking up. Fish would be sorted for market. Breakfast would be the catch of the day, if they could spare it. Nets, those precious nets, would have to be closely inspected and repaired. Each knot would be checked and retied. Each weight made fast again after exposure to water. Each rope, line and sheet checked and conserved for continued use.

And then, after a few hours of sleep stolen after caring for family and for the saying of prayers....do it again. Every day except the Sabbath. Every day, every night....vital and essential routines practiced in the face of Nature's intemperate surprises. One day, a good catch, another not so much.

Again and again.

Small wonder that Jesus would draw such stark parallels between the call to discipleship and the life's work of these fishermen? Come, follow me, he says...and I will make you into ones who will fish for human beings.

This is our work, being fishers of people. If we answer the call, we accept the challenge to be "on duty" like these men were in their life's work. They went out in good weather and bad. They braved the storms and gave thanks for the calm nights. They cast their nets with practiced (and practicing) hands, knowing that with each throw they learned a little more about the ways God's world and its creatures live and move and have their being in it. They tend and mend their tools, knowing that having good skills is one part of the equation. The vessel, and what it holds, needs to be ship-shape as well.

Come, says Jesus. Follow me.

Check your nets. Make fast the lines and sheets. Make ready....we have tonight's (and tomorrow's) catch to attend to....This is what it means to fish for people.

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