From the fishing village
of Capernaum where the Jordan flows into Galilee,
we find Peter and Andrew, James and John, starting
their day's work -- it is early -- long before the
first light. There's little time for them to
prepare hot barley cereal before they must leave
their homes of rock, mud, and dung to hurry down
Capernaum's earthen streets to the path that leads
to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As the men
walk in darkness and silence -- they wonder to
themselves what the day's catch will be. This is
the true spirit of fishing -- i.e., to be held
captive by the not knowing -- the unseeing of the
potential held by dark rippling waters -- the
anticipation of possibilities unknown. And so
there is a certain tension that is experienced by
the people who make their living from the sea.
Fishermen and Fisherwomen never truly know what
the wind and the waters will yield from one day to
When one is a
fisherperson, there is the feeling of heightened
anticipation that creates a type of excitement
held within. This level of excitement is unequaled
by other tasks. Perhaps this is what keeps fishing
people returning to their occupation day after
day. You can feel it when you drop a line with a
worm and a bobber into a farm pond. The moment the
tackle splashes into the water there is a
magnetic-like attraction that comes into being,
connecting one's consciousness with the "matter"
Perhaps you have
experienced this tension in your own fishing
pursuits --whatever or wherever they may be.
For us, on this cold
January morning of 2003, it is Mark's Gospel that
creates for us the tensileness of this moment.
Listening carefully to Mark's Gospel, we can hear
and we can feel the excitement as he relates the
account of Jesus' coming into his Messiahship.
In affect, Mark draws us
into the tension of what God is doing in the human
story by telling us that the time for God's action
is "Now(!) -- after John [the Baptist] is
arrested, Jesus comes into Galilee, proclaiming
the good news of God, and saying, 'The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent, and believe in the good news.'"
At these words our relaxed
fishing lines are drawn tight as with a strike!
We experience the
awakening that takes place when one becomes caught
up in the startling meaning of an important
message: Jesus has come to usher in God's Kingdom
and Jesus is calling simple folk like you and me
and fisherman to join him as leaders in the task
of living the new life of God's kingdom on earth!
With these words Mark has
caught our imagination. Jesus Words intrigue us,
and we're drawn in to wonder "What is the meaning
of the "TIME BEING FULFILLED" -- what is this
KINGDOM about which Jesus speaks???
Is it not Alluring? Is it
not a desirable thing that Mark is Dangling before
us like the shiney balls and spoons and twirlys
that make up the fishing tackle we use? Isn't a
Tempting concept? Surely it is at least mysterious
and we are tempted to ask . . . Has God really
come on the scene?
Through this abrupt
announcement, Mark has set up conditions of
tension for us to grapple with. God is at work!
For Jesus has come to fulfill what John the
Baptist has preached. "The way has been prepared
for the coming of the Lord." And now the disciples
are about to be effectively pulled into the
ministry that Jesus is proclaiming -- the Gospel
is the Good News -- That "'The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God has come near; and a time
has been set for us to repent, and to believe!"
And so we wait, as with
baited lines. We wait as fisher-people who must
organize our tangle of nets with their stone
weights and the strings that are all in disarray.
We stumble we trip -- at times, we accidently push
one another overboard!! "Excuse me whoops . . . Oh
sorry about that!" We are like the disciples in
the predawn darkness -- hurrying in the confines
of our own small boats -- peparing to cast our
nets over the world, engrossed in the mundane work
of our lives. We are not unlike the disciples who
worked along the shores of Galilee.
As busy as we may be with
all that needs doing -- before casting our nets
over the course of the day -- There is yet time --
Time for quiet moments alone before the sun rise.
Time to listen to the wind and the waves and to
observe the currents that are swirling in and out
of our lives. In this place we may observe and
note the comings and goings of time -- and we must
reflect on these things in light of the kingdom
that Jesus has proclaimed. "Am I making the right
choices? Do the things that I do have meaning in
light of God's time and purposes? Am I casting my
net for myself or for Jesus?
Our responsibility in
light of these questions is to listen for the
quiet voice of God and to sense the guidance of
the Holy Spirit -- and in the silence to recognize
that the TENSION of the Gospel calls us to the
work of discerning our call every day . . . in
this we must find satisfaction, even joy!
For the Fisher people,
seasoned men and women of the water -- it is by
instinct that the waters must be discerned. All of
the bodily "senses" must be alert to reveal the
place and the conditions by which the catch may be
made. Potential is all around! Fulfillment lies
just a few fathoms deep in Galilee's waters. The
line may pull taught, the net may grow heavy --
the wind and the water may even become a wild
torrent!! One can quickly become mentally and
physically consumed by the task of bringing in all
if then many kinds of fish that we encounter in
life. In our lives we are quickly and
unpredictable overwhelmed by the continuous
demands and disappointments. Stolen Bait & Empty
But into the persistent over bussiness of our
lives, a man cries to us from the shoreline,
"'Follow me and I will make you fish for people.'"
And this sounds most peculiar, a strange contrast
enters into the chaotic moment of our fishing day.
What is even more strange is that Peter, James,
John, and Andrew IMMEDIATELY left their nets and
followed Jesus." HOW CAN THIS BE??
All of the excitement and the effort given to the
routine of another day's work is disrupted . . .
all that was forthcoming from the water is
forsaken for following Jesus. Perhaps, We should
not be so surprised at this -- for Mark desires
for us to pay attention to the sign of the moment,
"The time is fulfilled" -- God's kingdom has come.
And so nothing will ever be as it was. Jesus calls
us to something new . . . though it is also
something familiar, something we understand. The
Kingdom of God is in our midst and we are called
to be about the service and the stewardship of
this kingdom. Jesus HAS Come and beckons to us
from the shorelines of our lives to follow him.
Notice that Jesus does not instruct the disciples
to go and get change of clothing. Jesus takes us
where we are -- Right off the boat!@! Right out of
the barn, from the shop -- out of the office of
our lives. We do not need to learn new skills --
Jesus offers us opportunity to use what we know to
accomplish his purposes in the world.
It may be that we are called to use a net to
capture our brother in his sin -- but our purpose
is to rescue and to deliver from evil. Or it may
be that we use our talent in writing to tell our
own story of Jesus' calling and our story becomes
a tool of inspiration for a sister who has given
up on the path to happiness or wholeness of
living, and so we're about the business of fishing
for men and women in order to rescue them from
perishing in this world.
It may be that the experience of Fishing for Jesus
requires us to hook some fish that are causing
great injustices to other fish - - this too is a
task of the fisher-person for the kingdom. And so
we go in the name of Jesus to visit people who sit
in high places and we go to speak with people who
hold great power whether it be in material wealth
or political influence or military strength. The
Gospel of Jesus disentangles us from the world's
nets -- we are free to follow Jesus!! We are
empowered to attend to the Kingdom's nets and to
do the work of setting at liberty the poor and the
oppressed persons of the world -- this is the Work
of following Jesus this is the kingdom he has
called us to!!
Being a fisher-person for Jesus is not necessarily
about fishing for souls -- it is in our work and
deeds that they may see the light . . . Jesus has
accomplished the work of salvation for us -- the
Holy Spirit will draw men and women and they too
will discern the call of God. But we are called to
be workers, fishing on behalf of Justice; being
about the task of throwing the net of God's
righteousness out over the stormy waters of human
deceit, slander, selfishness and greed. The net
of God's kingdom comes to cover these human ills
and seeks to redeem them into qualities of
What was deceptive becomes known! What was
hoarded as selfish gain becomes shared resources!
What was planned for greed becomes planned for the
benefit of all! Plans for war and destruction
must be abandoned for conversations of peace and
understanding. Silence must be replaced with
communication. Neighbors must speak face to face
rather than scheming and celebrating one another's
downfall. All of this is work of the Kingdom. All
of this and more must be caught in the net of the
Gospel of peace.
Dear friends, you and I are the net of the Gospel.
Each of us makes a circle in the web of the
Kingdom created. Each of our lives must be lived
in such ways that we would connect with the lives
of others and that the tears and rips of the net
are mended. We cannot do this in our own strength,
but through Jesus Christ whose body and blood
strengthen us for the journey. Christ whose word
dwells in our hearts. And Christ, whose Holy
Spirit shows us where to go and throw the net in
order to reap the harvest of the fullness of the
Kingdom of God.
May we be faithful to the task. Amen
May the peace of God, which is beyond our human
understanding fill our hearts and minds with
visions of the kingdom, in Jesus name we pray.