“I Am Going Fishing”
I am going fishing for the first time in August! I have never gone fishing on a boat before but will soon get the opportunity to do so at the invitation of John Bridgen. He has spoken often to me with excitement about fishing. I am not comfortable on boats since I saw the movie Titanic-what if our boat starts to sink? It is also scary because I do not know how to swim (though I love to go to the beach!). The opportunity of going fishing is of interest to me because I want to experience in some form the profession of Peter and other apostles who were fishermen. We recall that Jesus called the apostles to follow him and become fishers of men while they were fishing without catching any fish (Lk 5: 1-11). In the Gospel account of this Sunday’s mass, seven of the apostles return to their regular way of life, fishing. They are at the Sea of Tiberias when Peter says, “I am going fishing” (Jn 21:3). Other apostles joined Peter in the boat to go fishing. While they were about the business of fishing without catching anything, Jesus appeared to them for the third time after his resurrection.
Fathers and Doctors of the Church have read this passage mystically. The boat is the Church, the water is the world, the net is the unity that holds the church together, the large haul of fish, 153 in number, is the souls brought into the church, the shore that they approach is the heaven where Jesus is waiting for them. At the shore, Jesus prepares fish on a charcoal fire and along with bread makes a heavenly meal for them. This is a meaningful way to approach this Gospel passage. The church will be filled with many souls brought to salvation through the power and presence of Jesus. It is Christ that increases and nourishes the Church. We see the active role of Peter as the head of the apostles, but it is the Risen Jesus who truly gives life to the church and grows the church.
As we think of fishing in a mystical way, we are thinking of our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church with the successor of Peter as our leader. We know that through the witness of the leaders and indeed all the baptized as we observe in Acts 5:27-32, all of us are called to be witnesses to the power of the risen Jesus. Our witness must be bold and intentional, propelled by faith and love. We must continue to fish for souls. We must however begin at home. We must first fish for our family members and friends. We must invite and encourage them to embrace faith or return to faith. There are many who are not part of our church that we need to invite. There are also many who are part of our church but for some reason, have been estranged from us or have not joined us in a long while in the communal, sacred worship of the Lamb of God (see Rev 5: 11-14).
I hope my fishing expedition in August is a fruitful one. It is however certain that if we go out fishing for souls to bring to Church and Christ to join us in the worship of Jesus, we will succeed if we allow Jesus to direct us in faith and love. Beloved, let us go fishing! One of the ways we want to “fish” for members of our parish is to get actively involved. Our acts of faith and love go a long way in bringing more fish to the boat of the church. I want to suggest that one of the acts of fishing in this regard is signing up and encouraging others to sign up for the parish photo directory. This is an important part of the art of fishing for our church. We need to be able to identify those 153 fish (if you know what I mean).
In love and faith,