Thought for the week: point to ponder

Fishers of men; out of our depth?

‘I will make you fishers of men’ was a chorus we sang regularly at Sunday School. As someone who has never caught a fish in their life and who thankfully nominated Dad to sit with our son on wet and windy river banks during his ‘fishing years’ phase, I am probably not best qualified to comment on anything fishy related.

However, when I was ordained, my own Dad had made for me the green stole which is the one I wear for what the church calls ‘Ordinary Time’. He chose the design of the fish as he said that it was important to be regularly reminded of the call to fish for men.  Whatever else I did, he said, that was what I needed to concentrate upon.

Fishing for men might seem strange to us in a rural community quite a long way from the coast, but today’s reading reminds us of the absolute nature of the response of the early disciples.  They must leave everything to throw in their lot with this charismatic man.  Fishing requires us to move from the relative safety of the land to the less certain arena of waters – remember how squalls and storms came out of nowhere on Galilee

I’m not fond of deep water myself.  I rather like to be able to see the bottom, but this passage reminds me that we all sail in deep waters.  We are set forth over the waters of baptism.  The waters take us where they might, just as the Spirit moves where it wishes, and this is often to places where we might not wish to go, and the waters may well be deeper than we would like.   And we would not go anywhere but for two words – the same words offered the disciples – ‘Fear not.’

Holding on to that promise, ‘Fear not’, our fishing is purposeful; it might not result in the miraculous catch, but it is still significant.  With Jesus in the boat I don’t think there is anything we can simply designate as ‘ordinary time’, but to be part of the fishing party at all there is one more thing to do:   first of all, get into the boat!