Isaiah 6:1-8 – Psalm 138 – I Corinthians 15:1-11 – Luke 5:1-11
Homily for Morning Prayer, February 10, 2019 (Pat Vine)
Since our second reading is about fishing, I found some jokes about fishing on the Internet.
A monastery is in financial trouble, so it goes into the fish-and-chips business to raise money. One night a customer knocks on its door and a monk answers. The customer asks, “Are you the fish friar?” “No,” he replies. “I’m the chip monk.” You have to think about that one for a while…
What kind of music should you listen to while fishing? Something catchy!
The theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention was “Gifted, Called, Sent.” Our new Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Carlye Hughes, gave three talks on each of these topics:
- Gifted—becoming aware of the gifts that God gives us and gladly receive those gifts to further God’s kingdom;
- Called—hearing the voice of God calling us to go into a specific direction to use those God-given gifts; and
- Sent—being willing to move and go into the world bringing the love of Jesus through our gifts to those who so desperately need it.
In today’s first reading, Isaiah encounters the absolute holiness of God and in God’s overwhelmingly incredible presence, Isaiah realizes that he is a sinful man of unclean lips and how far removed he is from God’s holiness. By a lovingly merciful act of touching Isaiah’s lips with a live coal from the altar, Isaiah’s guilt departs and his sin is blotted out. Once he is reconciled to God, God says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here am I; send me!”
When Jesus tells Simon to put out into the deep water and let down his nets for a catch, Simon so much as says, “It’s useless Lord, since we worked all night and caught nothing.” But giving Simon some credit here, he follows Jesus’ order and lets down the nets. Much to his surprise and to those fishermen around him, their boats begin to sink from the amount of fish they catch. Interestingly, like Isaiah in the first reading, in the holy presence of God’s miraculous catch, Simon acknowledges that he is a sinful man. Jesus lovingly tells Simon to have no fear—from now on you will be catching people.
So Isaiah was willing to be sent and Simon was willing to follow Jesus’ command to cast his nets. Each response was a response of action.
How many of you have ever gone fishing? Was it fun? I remember when my husband John took me fishing for the first time in a lake—the thrill I experienced when I felt the tug on my fishing pole, reeled the line in, catching a fish on the hook!
In order to catch fish, you need the right tools.
- First you need a fishing license. The license tells you the rules and regulations that you must follow in order to fish in the state in which you live.
- You need a rod that extends your reach in order to go where the fish are.
- Attached to the rod you need fishing line that enables you to reach even farther into the water.
- At the end of the fishing line you need a hook on which you attach bait.
- Just above the hook you need a bobber that floats until a fish bites, after which the bobber bobs up and down to tell you that you have caught a fish!
- You need a reel, that once a fish is caught, you are able to wind the reel and bring the fish to you after it’s caught.
You need to take all of your fishing tools to a place where the fish hang out. Placing a fishing pole with bait in your bathtub won’t yield any fish.
Once you’ve got all of your fishing gear ready and you throw the line with bait into the water—now comes the hard part. You wait. And wait. And wait. Sometimes the fish take a nibble, you feel the line tug, you reel the line in, and the bait is gone and no fish is hooked. It may take many tries before a fish gets hooked and you reel it in. Or you may catch no fish at all. But when you finally catch a fish, you get excited and there is a certain sense of satisfaction in your accomplishment. And provided your catch is big enough, your fish can be cooked to provide sustenance to you and your family.
I’d like to make an analogy between fishing for fish and being sent by God to fish for people.
You need the right tools.
- The fishing license that gives the rules and regulations of fishing is likened to the scriptures that give us the rules and regulations of how to fish for people and catch them. The law that fulfills all laws is the law of love…when we want to “catch” people, we need to love them.
- The fishing rod is likened to your arms that reach out to people where they are, to shake their hand or give them a hug. You accept them as they are and where they are.
- The fishing line attached to the rod is likened to your going a little bit farther to reach people that you may have originally thought.
- The hook is likened to recognizing an opportunity in a conversation you are having to share an experience of God that relates to what you’re talking about.
- The bait is likened to a timely word that you say to another that is just what they needed to hear. The scriptures say “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”
- The bobber is likened to an indication from the Holy Spirit that the person to whom you are speaking has been touched by the Spirit.
One very important point in all of this is…When you’re fishing for fish, you need to be where the fish are. Simon needed to go out into the water to cast his nets. When you’re fishing for people, you need to be where the people are. So we need to go out into the community to be where the people are. Some obvious places where you encounter people might be the supermarket, the home, the office, a ballgame, the dinner table, the bar, a nursing home, any place that conversation and relationship can take place. You can bring the love of God to each of these places and begin fishing for people.
After we have cast our rod and used one or more of the fishing tools in a conversation with someone, the next step is to leave the results to God. It may be a long time of waiting. And waiting. And waiting. You may not see the results of your fishing, just like Simon when he fished all night and caught nothing. But we know from the story that following the voice of God will yield such a catch of people that your net won’t be able to hold them!
So won’t you join me in fishing and catching people? As soon as I leave here, I’ll be hanging this sign on my door—Gone fishin’. Amen.