The readings fit together so well, I almost don’t even need to explain. In each case, somebody is called by God to bring the Good News to His people. All three readings – watch for that common thread. The other undeniable thread is the fact that in all three cases, the person jumps in with both feet. God asks for help – and they devoted their lives to it.
Pay particular attention to that Gospel…. We all fit into that story in at least two ways… pay close attention to see if you can identify where YOU are. Remember – we are all at least two different characters.
Jerry went with his kids on a field trip at their school one beautiful spring day. The kids we all excited – mainly because they got to get OUT of school for a whole afternoon – and they were going to get to eat at McDonalds – but also because their science teacher was taking them an hour from home to see and catch fish. Every year on that day, the Salmon would make a run through the area toward their spawning grounds almost a thousand miles up-river.
The problem was – there had been a drought that year and between them and their spawning grounds, the river had gone dry in a couple of places. There was NO water running down the stream for almost 100 miles. The fear was that if the fish could not make it to their spawning grounds, they wouldn’t be able to spawn, and the entire population of these salmon would be lost.
So the plan was to catch as many salmon as they could and load them into a huge tanker truck to transport across the next state where the water was still flowing. It was important they catch every salmon they possible could – because any that get by will likely die.
The kids were split into groups of about a dozen and given a net about 20 feet long. They were instructed to hold the nets in the water to catch the fish as they came upstream – then they would pick up the fish and drop them into a bucket – then other kids would carry the full buckets to the truck to dump in. There must have been 1000 kids convening on this section of river that day.
Jerry didn’t have a job other than to be chaperone and run errands if anybody needed anything. So, he had time to just watch the process: The air was filled excitement as kids would squeal when a feisty fish would try to jump out of their hands as they scooped them into the bucket. He noticed the cooperation and teamwork the kids were learning by working together for a common goal. He noticed how some of the kids were just born leaders – seeming to fill the role as Head fisherman where adults normally would have filled that role. Jerry couldn’t help but smile watching them all working so intently on this one goal – to save the salmon.
Once in a while, a fish would get by the nets, and the back-up team would swoop in with their dip nets to bag the lone fish. This was important – remember- any fish that gets by is likely going to die. It was for their own good that the kids were catching them. But the fish didn’t understand… they just knew that somebody was trying to take them out of their element. They were quite comfortable in the water – oblivious to the impending doom that lay ahead – and they struggled with all their might to escape the hands of the captors. Some of the kids even got cut by the fins of the fish as they flopped around.
Some of the kids got frustrated by that… why didn’t the fish understand that we were there to HELP?! So for a while, they let their nets loose – or lying on the shore – and hundreds of fish swam by without being caught. On the edge of tears, the kids would sit on a rock – not sure what to do. Should they continue to enforce THEIR will on these fish for their own good – or leave them to their fate?
Where are you and I in this story?
Are we the fish? Sitting in our comfort zone of the lives we’ve built around ourselves – oblivious to the doom that is coming upon us? Do we readily accept help when it is given, or struggle to avoid any helping hand? Many have attempted to preach the Gospel to us to help us understand what lies ahead, but we’d rather just stay here in the warm water where we’re comfortable. Yeah – I’d say every one of us is the fish at some point in our lives. Somebody mentions a book or a retreat or a parish Mission – and well – that’s good for some people – but I really don’t have time for that. Besides, I’m quite comfortable here in the water.
Where ELSE are you and I in the story? Are we the fishermen? Have we taken seriously Christ’s call to be fishers of Men? In the Gospel he was talking to Cephas, but he really was talking to you and me. Have we ANSWERED that call to put out our nets for a catch? Do we work tirelessly with others in our community to reach out to all of the fish who come our way – or do we leave that work for others? Do we get discouraged when our efforts fail and they flop back into the water? Do we let them slip by us, or do we go to where they are in order to bring them to Christ?
Look around - Where are your nets? Are they dry – on the shore… think about that: When WAS the last time we actually cast into the deep to TRY to bring someone to know Jesus?
Two challenges for today – depending on where you found yourself in this story:
First – allow yourself to be caught – if Jesus has sent someone to pursue you – jump INTO the net.
Second – pick up your net and get back in the water….. go where the fish are – and save them.